As much of South Africa’s transportation is still road-based, the country needs to ready itself to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – doing so, will play a transformative role in future-proofing transportation in the country.
Transportation remains one of the most important sectors for its potential influence on most other industries and growth in the economy. As much of South Africa’s transportation is still road-based, the country needs to ready itself to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – doing so, connectivity, data and analytics, and autonomous vehicles will play a transformative role in future-proofing transportation in the country beyond 2030.
“Effective implementation of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) should be considered in earnest that will see selected major infrastructure projects fast-tracked to get the backlog moving, which could help with increasing capacity in transport industries and, as a direct result, influence positive growth in the economy,” says Vishaal Lutchman, transport and infrastructure divisional director, WSP ∣ Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa. “Though it shouldn’t be thought of in isolation, but rather viewed as a starting point to get the country’s infrastructure and supporting networks ready for the technological advances we are seeing globally, and better enable the 5.5% GDP growth the country is said to be able to achieve with relative ease.”
In reality, 2030 is a medium-term planning timeframe for major infrastructure projects. “While it’s important to have this planning and set targets in place, we also need a long-term vision that encapsulates how people will live, work and play beyond 2030. This will enable us to design what the future demand of transport networks will be. If we look at the pervasiveness of mobile devices and the uptake of the Internet in the country as well, then the adoption of key technologies becomes crucial to this vision and its implementation,” adds Lutchman.
“The National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) will see selected major infrastructure projects fast-tracked to get the backlog moving, which could immensely help with increasing capacity in transport industries and, as a direct result, influence positive growth in the economy,” says Vishaal Lutchman, transport and infrastructure divisional director, WSP ∣ Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa. “Though it shouldn’t be thought of in isolation and it should be viewed as a starting point to get the country’s infrastructure and supporting networks up to scratch – to better enable and facilitate the 5.5% GDP growth the country is said to be able to achieve.”
In reality, 2030 is a medium-term planning timeframe for major infrastructure projects. “While it’s great to have this planning and set targets in place, what we really need is a long-term vision that encapsulates how people will live, work and play beyond 2030 – and thereby design what the future demand of transport networks will be. Also, if we look at the pervasiveness of mobile devices and the uptake of the Internet in the country, then the adoption of key technologies becomes crucial to this vision and its implementation,” adds Lutchman.
Grant Fraser, Product and Marketing Director at MiX Telematics (Africa) agrees: “Today, we live in a digitally connected society and the expectations of individuals and business, alike, is to remain connected. However, managing this usually requires mobile connectivity in the form of Wi-Fi, GSM, GPS and wireless technologies.”
In fact, according to Riaan Graham, sales director at Ruckus Wireless, sub-Saharan Africa; “Mobility goes hand-in-hand with travel and transport and the proliferation of mobile devices is certainly driving the adoption of wireless technologies – particularly Wi-Fi connectivity – in transportation. Whether it’s an individual, or a company transporting people or goods, there is a distinct desire and expectation from consumers, customers and business, alike, to be able to; communicate, do seamless and real-time route checking or planning for improved time management and productivity, manage safety and security from anywhere, as well as access certain application services while on route.”
Graham confirms that Wi-Fi is ideal to incorporate in transport planning. “It doesn’t require fixed infrastructure to establish, can handle offloading 3G/4G capacity – particularly in high user density areas – with reliable connections and ubiquitous coverage and, it can differentiate service and access by user and device. For instance, a bus can be transformed into a moving Wi-Fi hotspot, which will create great value for the passengers and become a unique selling point for the bus company. However, the potential of Wi-Fi in transport is not just about passengers – when with the amplification of the Internet of Things (IoT) – it can enable smarter lifestyles for everyone.”
“Passengers also need real-time access to schedules, gate and ticket information, maps and/or other guidance as they pass through the bus terminal. Wi-Fi not only provides an ideal method for these activities, it also provides a platform for new revenue generating services such as additional Wi-Fi access or 3G/4G offload, as well as support for bus terminal operational needs such as point-of-sale, digital signage and video security. From a commercial perspective, there is also a global trend for transportation cargo and fleet services to become more involved in value added activities such as cargo processing and logistics, which will require new processes, practices and technological advances around stock control and integration, as well as better wireless connectivity,” adds Graham.
This is particularly true when we consider the significant advances in telematics technology and the future of smart vehicles. Fraser says: “The combination of connectivity, IoT and on-board technologies continues to drive the use of Big Data, which now lies at the centre of telematics technology. While the on-board computer is still an important component, advances in IoT and analytics provides the opportunity to access much richer data about the vehicle, its movements, the driver, etc. – and being able to effectively utilise this data to provide added value.”
The proliferation of Big Data and IoT are certainly two of the most significant change agents that continue to shape the future of telematics, however, when converged with leading-edge thinking into connected and autonomous vehicles (AVs) we can recognise the potential to truly transform transportation in the country.
Lutchman adds: “Autonomous vehicles or AVs are coming. A number of countries are already investing in supporting infrastructure and undertaking successful case studies. South Africa has the most sophisticated networks of transport infrastructure on the continent, and with the right planning and investment into required supporting infrastructure for connectivity, we could be ready for AVs post 2030.”
Global research* undertaken by WSP ∣ Parsons Brinckerhoff in the UK, in association with Farrells, found that AVs have the potential to support a better quality of life, economic growth, health, safety and social connections. They offer convenient and safer mobility, regardless of the driver’s capabilities, and could also help to improve the way that existing spaces and route networks work.
“Imagine a connected network of vehicles on our major highway, freeway and city centre routes. Because the vehicles will be pre-programmed to abide by the laws of the road, and able to connect to and access the latest in GPS mapping and data from other sources, these vehicles will be safer, more sustainable and more efficient than the vehicles of today,” adds Lutchman.
The company’s research also shows that in time AVs will be able to move around without direct driver input to transport people and goods, on demand, from door-to-door using the most efficient routes. Added to this, road transport systems of the future will interact seamlessly with other transport systems, offering end-to-end journey connectivity and resilience.
“Having networks of automated vehicles capable of completing journeys safely and efficiently – in normally encountered traffic, road and weather conditions – could significantly reduce collisions caused by driver error on our roads. Sophisticated telematics will still have a key role to play in ensuring visibility and, in the future, to monitor what will be known as the ‘robo driver’ (which too can come with its own set of challenges). If we consider that road fatalities cost the country billions of Rands every year – with the majority being caused by irresponsible driver behaviour – this should certainly be motivation for the country to adapt to these sophisticated transport modes in the future. Telematics data will remain an invaluable source of real-time insights when automation is present,” says Fraser.
Jaguar Land Rover and BMW team up for electric tech
The collaboration seeks to advance consumer adoption of electric vehicle technology.
Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group are joining forces to develop next generation Electric Drive Units (EDUs) in a move that will support the advancement of electrification technologies, a central part of the automotive industry’s transition to an ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) future.
The strategic collaboration will build on the considerable knowledge and expertise in electrification at both companies. Jaguar Land Rover has demonstrated its leading technical capability in bringing the world’s first premium battery electric SUV to market – the 2019 World Car of the Year, the Jaguar I-PACE, as well as plug-in hybrid models; and BMW Group bringing vast experience of developing and producing several generations of electric drive units in-house since it launched the BMW i3 in 2013.
Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director said: “The transition to ACES represents the greatest technological shift in the automotive industry in a generation. The pace of change and consumer interest in electrified vehicles is gathering real momentum and it’s essential we work across industry to advance the technologies required to deliver this exciting future.
“We’ve proven we can build world beating electric cars but now we need to scale the technology to support the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover products. It was clear from discussions with BMW Group that both companies’ requirements for next generation EDUs to support this transition have significant overlap making for a mutually beneficial collaboration.”
The agreement will enable both companies to take advantage of efficiencies arising from shared research and development and production planning as well as economies of scale from joint procurement across the supply chain.
A team of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group experts will engineer the EDUs with both partners developing the systems to deliver the specific characteristics required for their respective range of products.
The EDUs will be manufactured by each partner in their own production facilities. For Jaguar Land Rover this will be at its Wolverhampton-based Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), which was confirmed as the home for the company’s global EDU production in January of this year. The plant, which employs 1600 people, will be the centre of propulsion system manufacturing offering full flexibility between clean Ingenium petrol and diesel engines and electric units. The EMC will be complemented by the recently announced Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, near Birmingham, in supplying electrified powertrain systems to Jaguar Land Rover’s global vehicle plants.
Sensory steering wheel lets drivers feel the heat
Jaguar Land Rover researches rapid heating and cooling of the steering wheel for use with turn-by-turn navigation.
A steering wheel developed by Jaguar Land Rover could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road – by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.
The research, in partnership with Glasgow University, has created a ‘sensory steering wheel’, parts of which can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane or to warn of an approaching junction. This could be particularly useful when visibility is reduced through poor weather or the layout of the road.
The technology has also been applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete.
Driver distraction is a major contributor to road accidents around the world and accounts for 10 per cent of all fatal crashes in the USA alone*. Jaguar Land Rover’s research suggests thermal cues could be a way to keep drivers fully focused on the road.
The cues work on both sides of the steering wheel, indicating the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6°C. For comfort a driver could adjust the range of temperature change.
Studies have shown** temperature-based instructions could also be used for non-urgent notifications, where vibrations could be deemed unnecessarily attention grabbing, for example as a warning when fuel is running low, or for upcoming events, such as points of interest. Thermal cues can also be used where audio feedback would be deemed too disruptive to cabin conversations or media playback.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager, said:“Safety is a number one priority for Jaguar Land Rover and we are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future.
“The ‘sensory steering wheel’ is all part of this vision, with thermal cues able to reduce the amount of time drivers have to take their eyes off the road. Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn’t require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue.”
The Jaguar Land Rover-funded research is part of a PhD study undertaken by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito at Glasgow University as part of its Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST).
Jaguar and Land Rover models already boast a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to improve driver and vehicle safety, including the new generation Head-Up Display in the Range Rover Velar. The Velar also features capacitive steering wheel controls for common functions that combine with the Interactive Driver Display to help reduce driver distraction.