Although you may not immediately think of driving and transport when you hear the term “space technology”, these days they’re actually more closely aligned than you’d think.
Transport is changing. The way we drive our vehicles, use public transport and move goods is being enhanced through satellite technology.
Smart transport, according to European Space Agency: Business Applications, is revolutionising driving and road safety.
So, what is “Smart Transport”?
Smart transport makes use of the latest technology to improve our transport and logistic systems, and it can include things like traffic signals, car navigation and automatic number plate recognition. It is sometimes known as ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems), and the benefits of smart transport include being able to reroute traffic due to congestion, or adverse weather, as it happens.
What does Space have to do with Driving?
The way smart transport works is through the communication exchange of very large amounts of data. Satellite technology makes this possible and is a more reliable and efficient way of transferring data. This satellite data can also help detect weather conditions and electric vehicle battery life, as well as plot diversions more swiftly than ever before.
The Future of Transport
Satellite technology is being used in some areas of the transport and logistic sector already. However, there are lots of advancements being developed for the future. Transport has the potential to become even quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly through these technologies.
So, how will it affect us and our driving?
Communication between drivers and vehicles
In the future, vehicles will be able to directly receive data from transport hubs which will alert them of any danger. For example, in the case of extreme weather, satellite technology will pick up on weather patterns, decide the weather will not be safe to drive in, and warning notifications will be sent out to all vehicles in the area. This will allow cars to be rerouted away from the danger via satellite navigation before accidents occur.
These developments will also positively effect long-distance lorry drivers. Tachometers will send messages to vehicles when drivers are due for rest breaks, and the satellite navigation systems will automatically guide them to a safe place to rest and refuel.
Directing around Traffic Accidents
Road safety could be improved immensely through satellite technology. Traffic accidents and queues will be detected more swiftly, meaning they can be dealt with before they cause more severe disruption. Data sent to traffic hubs will be able to warn drivers of any issues on the roads, as well as alert the emergency services if needed.
The road maintenance sector is worth €75 million in Europe alone and this means there is a large scope for innovation.
One exciting new project is developing ways to improve the maintenance of roads during the winter. The Assist WRM Project is using satellite navigation and imagery to make road maintenance more efficient. By reducing the need for manual intervention, through remote, automated processes, their aim is to improve safety and allow drivers to focus on driving their vehicles.
Public transport in the UK often gets a bad rap. This could change with the incorporation of more advanced data to improve efficiency and lower costs.
The way we use buses could change completely through the use of signals which alert buses to the location of passengers, routing the nearest vehicle to pick them up.
Train safety could also be improved through the transfer of data between trains and transfer hubs to inform railway companies of any maintenance or repairs needed, and in which part of the train.
Smart Transport and Sustainability
It is no secret that CO2 emissions are rising, and that the transport sector is contributing to this.
The demand for more sustainable technologies is higher than ever and, as a result, businesses are already considering environmental monitoring to be a big priority in their strategies.
These space technologies and the remote exchange of data provides a greener way to manage the transport and logistics sector, and 15% of companies claim that this technology has already improved their sustainability.
Funding for Smart Transport
For projects like Assist WRM to be widely available, and for companies to develop more uses for these space technologies, they need to be supported through funding.
ESA-BA offer funding, support and assistance to businesses aiming to use space enabled technologies for new commercial services.
Here’s to the future of driving!