24 March 2010

The Connected Traveller

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Traffic in London will increase by 50 percent in the next 15 years. But now a new technology is on trial all over Europe which could help to overcome road congestions in the future

The idea is that all vehicles and road infrastructure such as road signs, parking spaces or tolling stations will communicate with each other to create and share new kind of travel and traffic information. The network is called Cooperative Vehicle Infrastructure System (CVIS) and will be based on a variety of carriers including cellular, mobile Wi-Fi, infra-red or short-range microwave channels. It is designed as an open platform, so that it can provide many different applications depending on the needs of the driver.

Pilot trials across Europe already demonstrate how the traveller of tomorrow will be able to use the CVIS system. In Turin, for example, signals from traffic lights inform the driver when they will turn green and indicate an optimal car speed on the dashboard. In London the CVIS system helps delivery drivers to unload their goods in a busy high street without blocking the road.

However, critics are concerned about privacy issues. Permanent monitoring and constantly being connected to infrastructure and other cars raises questions of the privacy of personal data. David Martin-Clark is a lawyer based in London who has been looking at these issues in detail. He believes that data protection will need to be integrated right from the beginning when new applications are being structured. “From my point of view”, so his verdict, “CVIS is doable”.

On the other hand, the potential benefits of a connected traveller are impressive: CVIS contributes to the driver´s efficiency. It saves fuel and time and reduces emissions. So far, the project is still limited to the pilot trials, but engineers expect that the system will be implemented on a larger scale within the next decade.

 

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