A connected world is in sight
A simple Google search for ‘connected autonomous vehicles UK’ brings up over nine million hits, with most notably the UK Governments website providing a useful central point for their efforts (spoiler alert: there is a lot about funding opportunities and pictures of pods) in bringing together what is undoubtedly a complex and (currently) disparate subject.
So, whilst the is plenty of future gazing and positive messages on the internet about how the world could look in ten, twenty or thirty years’ time, the question keeps coming to mind about how do we get there in a coherent manner? It does seem like the car manufacturers or big software companies like Google will take care of making a car autonomous in being able to drive itself, but who is providing a coordinated response to solving the other matters outside of the car? The data / telecoms infrastructure required for millions of vehicles to communicate? The road infrastructure that can handle autonomous cars in both urban and rural environments? The legal questions around who is responsible when you step inside a car? And there are many, many more!
Part of the answer to these outstanding questions will come from the Government and their efforts in ensuring safe use of roads by its citizens but there will also be a big part to play by companies who are already involved in keeping the UK road network running. Companies such as Clearview, who are already supplying road usage data into systems such as the National Traffic Information Service and are working with national and local authorities in providing real time data on who and what are using the UK’s roads.
It will be companies like Clearview who need to continue to develop and improve their service offerings, keeping up with new technology and utilising this to provide new ways of monitoring who is using the road network. With the ultimate aim of live real time data flow from vehicles to a central point to help control the flow of autonomous traffic across the road network.
A good example of progressing technology in this way is how we have continued to develop our own journey time monitoring system. Over the years they have been able to put equipment, both in the road and via bluetooth devices, across the UK road network to provide data on the type and amount of traffic using certain routes. This is vital data to help road operators understand and predict use on their roads and to help in traffic management when incidents or road maintenance is required that could disrupt regular routes.
But times move on and with the advent of live crowd sourced data being available to tell us where and when traffic is building up we have developed our journey time system to match this. The new Insight Journey Time Monitoring system utilises live traffic flow data, placing this onto a highly visual map of the UK’s roads, where an operator can choose (and easily change) what journeys to monitor through the click of a mouse. Removing the need for any roadside equipment, meaning this is both more cost effective and much quicker to get up and running.
The new system can be set up in minutes and can be configured to provide alerts and reports according the users needs. The data can also be connected to real time journey time signs to provide road users with live information on the journey ahead – useful both from a temporary roadworks perspective as much as through ongoing information provided via websites and apps.
The innovative subscription service mean routes can be set up in minutes and simply changed or reset according to the daily, hourly or even quicker requirements that a road operator may need to respond to.
Whilst this new system provides live and flexible data streams on how our roads are being used, it is obvious this in itself will not solve the future autonomous car infrastructure needs, but it does show how technology can and should continue to evolve and change to take advantage of the new opportunities our increasingly connected world is providing.
The Insight Journey Time Monitoring system is a fantastic tool for road operators to use right now on their network but over the coming years keep an eye on this and other systems as companies continue to evolve their product offering to take advantage of the new technology available and help us move towards the autonomous vehicle utopia that is rapidly approaching.