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£20 million funding for connected and autonomous vehicles

£20 million funding for connected and autonomous vehicles

24 Jul 2015: 

Competition now open for registration

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is to invest up to £20 million in collaborative R&D projects and feasibility studies to stimulate developments in autonomous vehicles and connected transport systems.

The aim of this competition is to encourage development of connected and autonomous vehicles, focusing on three themes– connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction– along with catalysing new business models.

More information on this competition.

Competition briefing event, 4th August, London

The event, which is free to attend, is an excellent opportunity for you to receive first hand information about the competition- application process, key dates etc. as well as meet and network with peers, potential partners, market leaders & innovators in the industry.

Register here for the briefing event.


For your queries about this competition, please email .

Going Green: Nottingham's hi-tech transport becomes EU model

Going Green: Nottingham's hi-tech transport becomes EU model

22 Jul 2015: 

Nottingham is famous for the legend of Robin Hood and lace-making. But it’s also helping to revolutionise how we get around.

Harnessing the power of new technologies, Nottingham is shaking up thinking about city travel - investing in a transport system which aims to cut congestion and pollution and get people from A to B faster.

Encouraging drivers to get out of their gas-guzzling cars and onto buses, bikes, trams and trains remains a challenge in most UK cities.

But in Nottingham, the tide appears to be turning. This thanks, in part, to a new levy which sees businesses charged for providing workplace parking.

The citys public transport system carried 75 million passengers last year. Almost 9 out of 10 public transport journeys (89%) were made by bus in 2014/15 and that figure is increasing - bucking a general decline elsewhere in the country.

“We have made improvements to our bus stations and bus stops, including the introduction of realtime travel information. We have also brought in a smart, multi-modal, multi-operator ‘Kangaroo’ ticket which can be used on buses, trams, trains and to hire bicycles. These changes have all improved the passenger experience and strengthened the network”, explained Richard Wellings, Senior Public Transport Officer at Nottingham City Council.

Dr Evtim Peytchev, Reader in Wireless, Mobile and Pervasive Computing at Nottingham Trent University, says the city has attracted a number of externally-funded projects thanks to its “advanced” use of travel technology.

“Nottingham has been at the forefront of installing GPS-based public transport information systems and mobile device information systems. It is now moving towards wireless device use for urban traffic control,” he commented.

As part of its green commitment, Nottingham is the first city in the UK to have stringent environmental standards for all buses entering the centre.

Forty-nine electric vehicles operate on council-tendered services. And, in 2017, the city will also boast the countrys first fully electric Park and Ride service, with the arrival of 13 single-deckers manufactured by Chinese company BYD.

In addition, a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is being considered for Nottingham city centre, which will limit bus stops to low-emission vehicles.

All of this is not going unnoticed. As part of the European REMOURBAN (REgeneration MOdel for accelerating the smart URBAN transformation) project, Nottingham has been chosen as a Lighthouse city - to help guide others in Europe along the same road.

It aims to show how an urban area can integrate infrastructure - mobility, energy and ICT - to meet population demands against a backdrop of environmental challenges.

As part of the plans, Nottingham will develop an all-electric “TourLink” summer bus service. The feasibility of recharging the vehicles with power generated by the burning of city waste is being explored. This would help to add carbon savings of around 40 percent, compared to diesel buses.

“The route will link Nottingham’s iconic Green’s Windmill with other key tourist attractions and, at the same time, expose visitors to electric bus technology,” explained Wellings, “GPS-controlled technology will also provide an audio-visual experience - immersing passengers in a narrative which combines history, art, sustainability and the city’s forward-thinking future.”

The European project will also see Nottingham piloting a project to cut the number of delivery trucks in the city centre.

Under the “Last Mile Logistics” plans, lorries will pull into a consolidation centre on the outskirts of the city, where goods will be transferred to electric vehicles for the last leg of their journey. The idea is to cut the number of diesel-gurgling trucks in the centre.

More eco-friendly hire cars are set to come to Nottingham too. The City Car Club, which offers vehicles for hourly rent, is due to be extended to the project’s demonstration district of Sneinton.

Nottingham Trent University will be working alongside the City Council, to advise on intelligent mobility and sustainability as part of REMOURBAN.

“The success of the project will be judged against its usefulness and ease of replicability,” said Peytchev, “therefore it is expected that it will be very easy to deploy the solutions used in Nottingham in other EU cities.”

By Damon Embling

Photo credit: Nottingham City Council

July's monthly newsletter

July's monthly newsletter

21 Jul 2015: 

July's edition of the TRIP monthly newsletter is now out and includes information on the latest project updates, upcoming events and transport research and innovation news

UK to lead the way in testing driverless cars

UK to lead the way in testing driverless cars

21 Jul 2015: 

The UK government has launched a £20 million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles, along with a code of practice for testing.

The measures announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Transport Minister Andrew Jones will put the UK at the forefront of the intelligent mobility market, expected to be worth £900 billion by 2025.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

To boost productivity Britain will need to capitalise on new technologies like driverless vehicles, securing high skilled jobs for those who want to work hard and get on, and contributing to a more prosperous future for the whole of the country.

Our world beating automotive industry, strengths in innovation and light touch regulatory approach to testing driverless technology combine to make the UK market competitive and an attractive destination for investors.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society and economy and I want the UK to lead the way in developing this exciting technology. Our code of practice clearly shows that the UK is in the best position when it comes to testing driverless cars and embracing the motoring of the future. We now look forward to working with industry to make this a reality.

A decade ago Britain’s car industry was in decline, but it is now the most productive amongst the major European producers. New technology can help it improve its productivity and competitiveness in the future.

The government wants bidders to put forward proposals in areas such as safety, reliability, how vehicles can communicate with each other and the environment around them and how driverless vehicles can help give an ageing population greater independence. Successful bidders will match fund projects with their own money.

The code of practice provides industry with the framework they need to safely trial cars in real-life scenarios, and to create more sophisticated versions of the models that already exist.

The Department for Transport and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have established the new joint policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), which will co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology. C-CAV is currently working on a range of new technological developments, including plans to test new roadside communication technology to improve traffic flow and safety through ‘connected corridors’. This would pilot technology that will provide drivers with useful journey and safety information.

The £20 million competition announced today is part of the £100 million for research into intelligent mobility announced by the Chancellor in the Spring 2015 Budget.

Time to embrace the information revolution

Time to embrace the information revolution

16 Jul 2015: 

A panel of experts in data, innovation and policy discussed the opportunities for rail to advance at the Transport Systems Catapult’s Imagine Festival 2015. Richard Jones reports

One thing we all agree on is that rail infrastructure cannot keep up with growing customer demand, so the challenge is to improve efficiency, capacity and routes. Data and computing have huge potential to do so. But as well as exciting opportunities, there are technical and policy challenges to overcome.

Demand outstrips supply – how do we cope?

Patrick Bossert, director of digital transformation at Network Rail, outlined the challenge. Network Rail moves more than a billion people per year and a lot of freight. Passenger numbers have doubled over recent years and will double again over the next 30. Adding tracks and trains becomes harder. Meanwhile, lots of trains are already full.

There are two main challenges and corresponding opportunities: connectivity and capacity.

Connectivity relates to allowing people to connect via the most direct routes. Barriers come from trains not stopping at key hubs, so people have to go back on themselves or take less efficient routes. Capacity relates to overfilled stations or trains.

Building more infrastructure is not a complete solution. We also need to evolve intelligently.

Many delays are caused by old signalling systems. There is no reason why we can’t get rid of these and manage all trains digitally, using software and sensors to ensure they run efficiently. This would also allow us to know exactly where trains are, thus ensuring information at stations and online is always accurate.

Similarly with timetables, these are currently developed with a lot of manual input and then fixed for six months. If we introduced intelligent scheduling combined with real-time monitoring, we could optimise train’s schedules dynamically and hence more efficiently. For example if a train routinely waits outside London Waterloo for a minute under the current timetable, it could have spent that minute stopping at another station on the way, making the journey easier for customers. Combining the experience of our planners and the latest thinking on game theory could produce clear benefits.

Digital transformation offers huge potential here, and is being spearheaded by Network Rail’s Digital Railways programme. This is an ambitious plan – no one else has gone through a journey like this. Network Rail believes this could increase capacity dramatically on key sections of network.

In doing so, we clearly have much to learn from the aviation industry. It has used a digital approach to ease air traffic flow through airports and optimise throughput of aircraft. Heathrow has successfully implemented new technology enabling movement of 48 planes every hour, so there must be things the rail industry can learn about scheduling and managing services more efficiently.

The information opportunity

The opportunity here comes from more information and greater connectivity and greater ability to capture information.

Xavier Quayzin, head of rail services at QinetiQ, explained OptaSense, a new technology which turns telephone fibre into an intelligent listening device which can monitor any long linear asset such as railways.

This provides an acoustic footprint allowing information about the nature of disruptions and threats to be delivered in real-time, so train companies can react accordingly – potentially saving millions of dollars in avoided accidents and/or maintenance. It is being trialled in Germany but after two years of conversations, nothing has yet been decided in the UK.

Darren Wood, solutions development director at Delta Rail discussed how social media could be used to better understand the context of commuting and the frustrations customers face. If we listen, he said, rather than ask through surveys, we gain different insights. For example we found changing how information is displayed caused lots of dissatisfaction.

In fact generally big well-intentioned investments often cause lots of short-term pain. The reality is that the rail industry doesn’t really understand its customers.

In complex systems with lots of moving parts, faults and subsequent disruption will happen. But with better information we can better manage services, crowds and individuals.

A key part of harnessing data is opening it up. As was highlighted, a lot of very useful data is being kept behind closed doors. We need to understand how we can incentivise people to open up data and reward them for it so others can benefit from it. TfL is a shining example here that others should look to.

Creating innovation

Simon Smith, director of the Rail Executive at the Department for Transport, discussed how rail might create the innovation needed to make advances in efficiency, customer service and emissions.

While public investment in rail infrastructure is at record high levels, this cannot fix all of our problems. There are various good reasons for this – public spending constraints apply everywhere, and rail infrastructure investment is often expensive and disruptive to passengers.

However he explained that the DfT is looking at how Toc’s could be encouraged to do more by improving the way franchise contracts are awarded, and designing in economic incentives to invest in innovation.

For example DfT is looking at a mechanism whereby companies making investments with benefits accruing beyond the length of the franchise would get paid back for value that the investment delivers over and above the terms agreed. Other programmes involve grants for proposals that address key challenges, and shared innovation schemes where all operators invest in projects that benefit whole industry.

DfT is also experimenting with new technology. For example continuous electrification can be expensive on certain routes, which means diesel trains would still be necessary in some areas. To address this, there have recently been successful experiments with the IPEMU battery powered train built by Bombardier in Derby. This would enable discontinuous electrification and make services more affordable.

Rail is one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport, but it needs to innovate to maintain that advantage. Aerospace and automotive have significantly reduced emissions in recent years, so we can definitely learn from other sectors on fuel efficiency.

Quayzin echoed this, adding that he would like to see a coordinated approach with a portfolio of innovation, rather than a piece by piece approach.

Security implications of connectivity

No discussion of connected transport is complete without discussing security. Xavier Quayzin shared his experience of the rail sector, acknowledging that the threat is nothing new, but that there is an increasing risk as rail becomes more connected.

With the Internet of Things, everything is inter-connected. We start with good intentions but it doesn’t always work out. Shodan – a search engine to find a ‘thing’ in the Internet of Things – highlights that connectivity creates new and unwanted opportunities for attack.

However Quayzin concluded that if managed properly, security is not impossible, we just need to understand and control the risk.

The future of rail

Rail customers are changing. We are increasingly urban, connected, older, and have higher expectations. Rail must adapt to that. It must provide a fast, seamless, safe, clean and comfortable service. And customers must find it easy to use through their personal devices.

The rail industry must rise to meet the challenge of these expectations. Other areas of transport, and even some innovate areas of rail, provide great examples; from Heathrow to TfL to autonomous vehicles.

So far procurement and innovation in UK rail has been relatively timid – we need to think harder about radical innovation. With the current pace of change, we can’t afford to delay.

Richard Jones is rail business sector director, Transport Systems Catapult

British students unveil solar powered car

British students unveil solar powered car

16 Jul 2015: 

British students have built a car powered exclusively by solar energy.

The Cambridge University-based team is launching the Evolution car on Monday at the famous institution's sports ground.

This is with a view to racing it in the Australian Outback's Bridgestone World Solar Challenge this autumn.

The uni's Eco-Racing Team (CEUR) goes into the week-long endurance event (October 18-25) armed with plenty of experience. The 60-strong crew has been making, racing and designing eco-vehicles for the past eight years.

Alan Jamieson, its driver who is working towards a fluid mechanics PhD, called the race among the world's "toughest" challenges.

The Evolution is aimed at highlighting electric vehicles' huge potential by showcasing state-of-the-art sustainable engineering. The brains behind the car hope it can help set an example for the mainstream vehicles of tomorrow.

The CEUR team will be hoping for better luck than at their last outing two years ago, when questions about the machine's stability were raised by a road test accident.

The team is confident that such glitches have been smoothed out.

CEUR's machine comes with the backing of several high-profile organisations. These include Jaguar Land Rover, Viridian Sola, TTP, Marshall Group, Timeless Green and Penson. In addition, BNY Mellon, the international investor, has recently expressed support.

Solar power in the car industry has been hitting the headlines of late.

Last year Ford announced that it was working on a trailblazing 100mpg solar-fuelled concept vehicle . Engineers ensured that the C-Max Solar Energi Concept Car combined a traditional petrol engine with a device that directed the rays of the sun via solar panels mounted on its roof.

A few months later Jaguar Land Rover's (JLR) officials said it had placed asolar-panelled roof containing 21,000 solar-powered cells on its South Staffordshire factory. This made it the largest solar-panelled roof yet, they claimed, equivalent of powering 1,800 homes and reducing JLR's carbon footprint by over 2,400 tonnes a year.

Cambridge University students will spend the months before the endurance race testing the Evolution on Millbrook's Bedfordshire proving ground and the wind tunnel amenities at JLR.

CEUR's electrical team head Amy Livingstone says the latest model has more power than its predecessor, with the solar panel modified to absorb extra solar rays.

BNY Mellon's Scott Stevens called the students' fervour for clean-technology innovation as "truly awe-inspiring".

Copyright Press Association 2015

Not just pretty; landscape art that cuts airport noise pollution in half

Not just pretty; landscape art that cuts airport noise pollution in half

16 Jul 2015: 

Noise is a major bugbear for both airports and the public and stands only to worsen as housing developments encroach closer and closer to runways. Worse, there’s evidence that noise is more than just annoying. The World Health Organisation has suggests that noise can be linked to heart disease and could even eventually kill you. Some airports however, are now exploring new ways to curb noise pollution; land art that disrupts sound waves while doubling up as a park.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is leading the way in turning one of Europe’s fourth largest travel hubs into a piece of living art. They have turned the famously flat terrain of the Netherlands into a rolling pattern of ridges that nestle in around their largest runway. When planes take off, these ridges absorb and deflect the noise of the engines on the ground. It effectively cuts in half the noise for surrounding suburbs.

It all came about when researchers from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), discovered that areas close to the airport where the farmers were ploughing the fields were significantly quieter than areas that weren’t ploughed. They entrusted Paul de Kort, landscape artist, with designing a solution based on the research findings. He designed a pattern of noise deflecting ridges – built with GPS-guided robot excavators – that intercept sounds waves and deflects them skyward. It’s called Buitenschot Land Art Park, and is a tremendous success story, but Schiphol Airport want to go further. They have committed to reducing noise levels by tenfold (10 decibels), with this park gets them halfway there. Next phases are planned to nearly double the size of the grooved landscape.

It’s an inspiring story of research leading to novel solutions. This practical art work is transforming quality of life for neighbourhoods near Schiphol Airport and is already inspiring other airports. Melbourne and London Gatwick are following the lead and constructing similar sound barriers.

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