The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) have jointly established a research chair in smart mobility, the first of its kind in South Africa.
Professor Marianne Vanderschuren, an expert in transport planning and engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT), has been selected to lead the initiative.
The chair will contribute to human capital development, the advancement of key areas in smart mobility and the development of “a clear plan for the translation of research into impact”, says the CSIR.
The DSI and NRF in 2006 established the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI).
Research chairs are to build on existing research strengths in South Africa, and to enhance emerging areas of strategic importance. They should also provide an enhanced training environment for students and postdoctoral fellows by exposing them to important research challenges and opportunities.
“In 2019, the CSIR created a smart mobility cluster as one of the strategic pillars of the organisation to address challenges and opportunities associated with transport and freight logistics, transport equipment, transport infrastructure and passenger transport services,” says CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini.
“The ultimate goal is to improve the efficiencies and cost competitiveness of the sector. Hence, this research chair marks a significant step forward for the CSIR.”
“Over the years, the local transport sector has suffered a serious loss of skills and capabilities in the critical areas of transport planning, transport economics, pavement engineering, transport modelling, logistics and supply chains, negatively impacting roads and transport infrastructure,” adds CSIR smart mobility executive cluster manager Kenny Kistan.
“The focus of the research chair is on research and postgraduate student development that introduces novel approaches to the modern-day challenges of the systems under consideration, within national, regional and African performance challenges and resource constraints.”
Prior to her appointment at UCT in 2000 to develop the teaching of transport studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, Vanderschuren worked as a researcher in the Netherlands for more than ten years. Her current research interest is road safety and the sustainability for freight and passenger transport.