Imperial College to Re-Calibrate Travel Time

As mobility experience is increasingly determined not only by duration or monetary cost of travel, new cultures of work have emerged, especially strong among knowledge workers, that exploit non-traditional settings, including public spaces and transport modes, with the aim of improving productivity and well-being by the better alignment of tasks to productive times and spaces.

USL in partnership with Cisco CREATE and Transport for Greater Manchester will soon be announcing an interdisciplinary 3.5-year ICASE PhD studentship to explore productivity and well-being impacts of digital technologies on workers in mobile settings.

Urban Systems Lab (USL) at Imperial College is the latest partner to join the TravelSpirit movement.

USL is a multi-disciplinary research cluster, covering a wide range of techniques and approaches; aimed at re-aligning and re-focusing world-leading academic creativity to address the urgent problems of cities.

Led by the USL Director, Professor John Polak, researchers from the USL have been involved in a number of pioneering research activities, including those surrounding the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

Some specific examples of USL’s work include development of new analysis techniques for understanding:

By joining the TravelSpirit movement, researchers from USL expect to contribute with new and critical insights into development of MaaS while also interacting with stakeholders to form new partnerships for exploring new avenues for the future of urban mobility.

As mobility experience is increasingly determined not only by duration or monetary cost of travel, USL in partnership with Cisco CREATE and Transport for Greater Manchester will soon be announcing an interdisciplinary 3.5-year ICASE PhD studentship to explore productivity and well-being impacts of digital technologies on workers in mobile settings.

The joint effort is motivated by the trend in which rapid development of new mobile devices and omnipresent connectivity has led to the increasing decoupling of work (and other activities) from specific locations. New cultures of work have emerged, especially strong among knowledge workers, that exploit non-traditional settings, including public spaces and transport modes, with the aim of improving productivity and well-being by the better alignment of tasks to productive times and spaces.

While social science has amassed a significant body of descriptive evidence relating to these practices and their productivity and well-being implications, this knowledge remains largely detached from the quantitative and predictive approaches used in the appraisal and evaluation of digital and physical infrastructure investments.

The aim of the studentship, forming part of the the ESRC-funded London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership, will be to develop new ways of embedding qualitative and quantitative understandings of the impacts of digitisation and connectivity on productivity and well-being into the quantitative frameworks used for infrastructure appraisal and evaluation. The research part of will seek to explore a number of different case studies, including the UK’s largest Internet of Things City demonstrator project, Cityverve in Manchester.

The Urban Systems Lab was formed in October 2015 as a cross faculty partnership between all of Imperial College London’s major Departments and Institutes and a number of external partners. Based at Imperial’s South Kensington Campus, the Urban Systems Lab undertakes the highest quality research in the areas of the planning, design, management, operation and control of urban and regional infrastructure and service systems, in order to inform policy and the understanding of key issues affecting society.

Vision for Shared eCAV Opportunity Launched

“We are heading towards a chaotic approach to public transport that will work because MaaS operating through size and cost-appropriate electric vehicles (AKA buses) will deliver high definition mobility” says Steve Reeves, Head of Business Development at Woodall Nicholson, one of the oldest established coachbuilding companies in the UK, based in Bolton, Lancashire. It dates right back to the 1820’s, when its major market was the building of horse-drawn hansom cabs and carriages. Known nowadays, locally for their UK market leading production line of hearses and limousines, the firm has been placing significant investment in its growing accessible mini-bus business, Mellor Coachcraft, which produces the vehicles out of their factory in Rochdale.

Steve’s full article is provided below:

“My work with Mellor Coachcraft, alongside some amazing people working together on the Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) Grand Challenge, and in particular Ben Davis, founder of robotics systems firm, GOBOTiX, has led me to believe that bus autonomy is not as far away as people think. A recent tour of University of Salford’s Robotics and Artificial Intelligence capabilities has also, simply, ‘blown my mind’.

Within the parameters of a public-transit/private-operation collaborative agreement; autonomous public transport systems are possible soon, through Shared CAV.

The idea behind Shared CAV is not new. In 1852, Elisha Otis invented the modern elevator as a form of autonomous transport.

In some ways, Shared CAV can be compared with the elevator. People will be carried safely without a driver along a fixed route, and the service will be on-demand. When related to the conveyance of passengers we call this idea the Horizontal Elevator and the path along which it runs a Virtual Tramway.

Just as the Otis elevator made skyscrapers possible, elevators being the enabling technology, similarly, Shared CAV will revolutionise public transport by enabling ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) to scale outside of London, New York and Berlin.

The UK Government recognises the potential contribution CAV can make to economic growth through the enhanced ability to transport goods and people more efficiently and effectively. By deploying emergent technologies and encouraging collaboration across different sectors, the opportunity exists to generate the required improvements in a sustainable manner.

The UK Gov’s Innovate Programme and the official autonomy policy unit (Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) has actioned considerable support through grants for collaborative agreements between companies that can deliver a combination of 3C capability, security, vehicle platform technology, robotic interfaces and Artificial Intelligence, all leading to vehicle autonomy.

Without the full support of local transit and public authorities, roadways cannot be prepared for near-time vehicle autonomy. Colleagues from Mouchel explained during Shared CAV development workshops that roadways selected to host the virtual tramways will need a degree of light infrastructural support to work safely. In some instances, a council, even a parish council might be able to access this potential though their active involvement.

Who will be Shared CAV’s early adopters?
We expect there to be high demand for a turnkey solution from:
• Urban areas that are in current grid-lock.
• Industrial estates access through parking lots
• Airports optimising passenger flow
• Feeder routes for hospitals and resort complexes

Shared CAV is for people and the places who understand that the only important ‘driver is ‘access’, not ownership! As the UITP report, Autonomous vehicles: a potential game changer? describes, these places will benefit from the creation of a flexible on-demand system will tackle congestion head-on, by reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on our roads, by connecting to and strengthening radial mass transit routes and meeting orbital travel needs that are often less well served by public transport.

The time is right for a new approach to mobility. An interconnected world needs a transport network delivering mobility options that offer services far exceeding current driven platforms.

Manchester has a benchmark tram system. It brings many parts of the city together and is generally regarded as a success by those that use it. However, new trams come with a massive cost burden and considerable disruption in their construction. Indeed, this may well be the last metropolitan tram project of its size in the UK again?

The Virtual Tramway, a new concept developed by GOBOTiX, does not have guide rails or tracks, it is created using GIS mapping tools and relies on predictive analysis data embedded within the maps supported by on-board analytical capability delivered through industrial computers sensors, cameras and CCTV. Integration with the urban traffic systems is achieved using wideband width communications platforms connected to a resilient command centre.

The development teams at Woodall Nicholson engaged with key industry partners and specialists believe that early Shared CAV vehicles will consist of appropriate-sized buses (between 8 and 16 seats) that can work alone, or, as part of a platoon. These buses may be traditionally driven too! A truly three-for-one proposition.

We already have a ground transport mix of rail, trams, buses, taxi, private hire, cycling, walking, etc. Introducing to the ground network autonomous capability and MaaS technology will create widely diverging outcomes, rendering long-term prediction of the behaviour of the system challenging, to say the least. This becomes even more evident when you consider the direction Airbus is taking the single-occupancy travel market, with its intention to test a self-flying taxi by the end of the year.

We are heading towards a chaotic approach to public transport that will work because MaaS operating through size and cost-appropriate electric vehicles (AKA buses) will deliver high definition mobility. Therefore, I have decided to join the TravelSpirit Foundation, which has been established to accelerate the adoption of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) systems that integrate discovery, booking, and payment of multi-modal transport service offerings under an open marketplace, which will give my clients, like Woodall Nicholson, a far greater access to this evolving new market opportunity.

The time may come where costly mass transit delivery platforms such as the 110 passengers ‘bendy buses’ or even the iconic London Double Decker will be on our roads simply to manage peak ‘rush’ hour transportation, particularly when platooning smaller buses cannot cope. Size appropriate Big-Taxi and LiteBus will carry the load during normalised traffic periods.

We should dispel one myth; the proponents of Shared CAV are concerned about enabling new on-demand services, not removing drivers from existing scheduled service routes.

Ben Davis tells me that the Virtual Tramway system will operate without stations and without a timetable, be on demand. He explains that its frequency will be managed by need.

The main advantages of this first-step, flexible platform are low implementation costs and high replicability. To guarantee the safety of such a new system, similar signage and painted “rails” as would be deployed for Trams will be used to alert people and road users to the fact that an autonomous bus runs on the route.

The system will be safer as people will treat it as a tram and not take the kind of risks they might with a small pod. Think along the lines: how do you drive when next to a bus vs. a car? You exercise more control and provide it with more room.

Crossing a multi-lane junction is challenging even for drivers. CCTV will be installed to stream data in real time to the vehicles navigation system, this will give the vehicle the advantage of seeing around corners. A Virtual Tramway track does not need stations, overhead power or rails but it does need some on-the-ground support, all of which can be managed by councils as small integrated projects. The more Virtual Tramways we create, the lower the costs and better return on investment.

The solution is flexible enough to incorporate future changes and advancements in technology, unlike a real tramway. The vehicles will be able to deviate from their “Virtual Tramway” under certain circumstances only, when safe to do so. In the event of there being a problem the vehicle would stop, and a tele-operator will slowly move the vehicle out of the way of others to allow for transition from manned to unmanned once the system is proven.

All this means that as the system matures beyond the end of the project, it will increase its capability to deal with changing situations and run in a less constrained way as safety permits.
In Summary:

DFT compliant business cases, developed by Transport for Greater Manchester and Steer Davies Gleave and Alliance Manchester Business School have focused on the Virtual Tramway solution operating a 16 Seat Electric LiteBus with the necessary infrastructural support demonstrates a healthy return on investment of 2.6. This number does not include out of hours running and is solely based on new services. The actual number could be as high as 4.0

The key enabler and first step towards the outcomes predicted in the UITP report could be Virtual Tramways. They are low in cost and disruption, predicted to be inexpensive to operate and will be safe. Virtual Tramways is an idea that could open the Shared CAV potential to an infinite number of other vehicles delivering a myriad of functions. This solution brings CAV into urban environments and will not be limited only to electric buses.

The cost of laying and maintaining a tramway or guided bus route can be excessive compared to a Shared CAV solution that has much higher speed of deployment and is scalable. In other cases, Shared CAV can strengthen the business case for a hard infrastructure investment, by widening out the benefits.

The Government are right to promote CAV as an idea, and I am glad to see it feature highly in the consultation for a new Industrial Strategy for the UK. In my view, they may have to accept slightly more constrained (but still driverless) public transport solutions in a step-by-step scalable model. Smart transport and communication businesses are currently researching the platforms and technologies needed to deliver this exciting vision for the future, supported by growing clusters, industry-led consortia, such as, here in the North, the Northern Automotive Alliance and the Northern Robotics Network.”

Steve Reeves, Head of Business Development, Woodall Nicholson

Hackout Manchester entered into UITP Global Hackathon Programme

Youth For Public Transport (Y4PT) Foundation, with the support of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and its members, and following the long-standing tradition of Y4PT Youth Lab series, is promoting the organization of local transport hackathons around the world, by combining the best of boundless human creativity and the benefits of current information and communications technologies (ICTs) in collaborative environments, with the aim of advancing transport sector towards sustainability.

Different local stakeholders such as universities, youth groups, ICT companies, transport operators, authorities, start-up mentors and hackers are called to collaborate with Y4PT and to be part of the world’s first ever global transport hackathon.

Everyone is invited to get on board. This is an one-off opportunity to show to your audience and users how important is for you to support this kind of events where innovation and creativity is putting forward new ICT-related solutions to boost both the private sector business performance and the public sector policy efficacy, and thus to unlock new opportunities to expand, diversify and renew your organization’s portfolio of products and services.

Winners from each local transport hackathon will join other Canada-based hackers at the 1st Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon Montreal 2017 (http://www.y4pt.org/projects/hackathon) in the framework of the 62th UITP Global Public Transport Summit Montreal 2017the world’s oldest and leading sustainable transport event – to contest in a final round for unveiling the world’s best ground-breaking transport solutions.

Hackout Manchester is one of twenty cities selected by UITP as ‘international prize locations’; funding for the winners of Hackout Manchester to fly out to Montreal to participate in the Global Transport Hackathon in May 2017. Other ‘prize cities’ are Almaty, Bangalore, Brescia, Brussels, Bogotá, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Ghent, Hyderabad, Kampala, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Medellín, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo, Skopje, Cape Town and Stockholm.

 

 

International Association of Public Transport promote AVs as key enabler for MaaS

According to a new position paper from UITP, there is an opportunity to enable cities to function with 80% fewer cars, but this will only happen if AVs are introduced in fleets of driverless shared autonomous vehicles of different sizes that reinforce an efficient high capacity public transport network.

Shared fleets, integrated with traditional public transport offer the possibility of a better urban future, cutting noise and environmental pollution, improving traffic efficiency and parking and in the process liberating vast amounts of urban space for other purposes. “When 1.2m people around the world die each year in car-related deaths, 90% of which are due to human error, the road safety benefits are also significant,” said UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch.

Public authorities must take an active role in the roll-out of AVs to ensure their shared use with measures to encourage shared mobility and limit single car occupancy (eg. road pricing or taxation) and provide ‘Mobility as a Service’ platforms (as whoever controls the platform controls travel behaviour). Trials should also begin on public roads to see how best to integrate AVs into the mobility eco-system and preparations made for the impact on employment as some driving jobs could disappear and others needing specific skills could arise.

For more information: http://www.uitp.org/autonomous-vehicles

Northern Automotive Alliance (NAA) join the TravelSpirit Foundation

We are proud to announce the joining of NAA to the TravelSpirit Foundation. This is part of a new ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative, called the ConcentriCity Alliance. The alliance has been to apply of the joint expertise of Northern Robotics Network, Northern Automotive Alliance, Transport for The North and Tech North members to strengthen the UK’s commercialisation capability in the area of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

This new collaborative partnership is helping NAA members gain access to the latest information and networks surrounding the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) market opportunity for the automotive sector. It provides an ideal platform for the automotive and digital communities to build stronger relationships and collaborations on MaaS.

NAA’s membership of the foundation has added a new capability and breadth of knowledge for the TravelSpirit Community. It will improve community relations with the automotive supply chain that will help develop best of breed New Mobility Service businesses. This will also help fully exploit the opportunities that connected and autonomous vehicles can bring to the Mobility as a Service market.

NAA is a wholly independent, not-for-profit organisation providing support for all companies within the automotive sector in the North West of England & Yorkshire. In addition to business support and provision of funding, it provides development and participation support to UK public-private sector R&D consortia. The NAA has both technical, project and contract management of large scale projects through ERDF & AMSCI as well as Innovate UK collaborative R&D projects.

Alstom step towards MaaS-on-rail, through acquisition of Nomad Digital

TravelSpirit Foundation ‘gold medalist’ partner, Alstom, have acquired Nomad Digital to strengthen their capability to help the rail industry migrate to Mobility as a Service. Nomad Digital employs around 230 people, and is headquartered in Newcastle (UK), with 13 offices worldwide, principally in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Canada, Australia and the United States. Its turnover represents more than GBP 30 million.

Nomad Digital, founded in 2002 in the United Kingdom, is a world leading provider of passenger and fleet connectivity solutions to the railway industry. Nomad Digital’s solutions include passenger WiFi, innovative Passenger Information Systems and on-board passenger portals, entertainment and media platforms. Nomad Digital’s is an ideal position to fully leverage the integration and convergence of both Rail and Information & Communications Technologies (ICT) required to enable the MaaS revolution in an industry now ripe for disruption [more detail].

For more information on the MaaS Challenge for Rail – led by our CEO, Alex Burrows please read here.

MaaS Global make in-roads into the UK

TravelSpirit ‘gold’ affiliates MaaS Global and Transport for West Midlands have made a significant in-road to raising the MaaS agenda in the UK, through the signing of an ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between MaaS Global and the West Midlands Combined Authority, National Express, SilverRail and Birmingham City Council; which commits all signed parties to develop Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in the West Midlands, with a plan to launch MaaS Global’s Whim app in the West Midlands metropolitan area in early 2017. Pre-registrations to use Whim in Birmingham can be made on by clicking here.

TravelSpirit appoints new CTO, sparking transatlantic relations

We’re proud to announce the arrival of our new CTO, Jeremy Dalton. Jeremy is the principal and founder of Method City Planning, a Portland-based consultancy that supports the planning and implementation of multi­modal transportation projects and initiatives in the United States. He hits the ground-running, having been working, as a TravelSpirit Project Board member over the summer, where he has already established good links between the UK and United States community transport associations (CTAUK and CTAA), and championing the incubation of Portland borne RidePilot onto the TravelSpirit Open Source Platform. Click here to read Jeremy’s recent blog on CTAUK. Finally we’d like to thank Rob Taylor, our out-going CTO, for his successful leadership in his role here at TravelSpirit Foundation – over-seeing the development of our organisations technical governance structure and successful launch in the UK. We wish Rob every success in his next full-on enterprise at Reconfigure.io.

Lyft helps educate major U.S. cities about the end of the road of private car ownership – by 2025

“America is running a failing transportation business”, says John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft. While Mobility as a Service is already buzzing around Europe and the UK, other countries are beginning to ‘wake-up and smell the coffee’. With a call to action for U.S. cities to think differently about the opportunities ahead for how their cities could develop in a new shared-car economy, the TravelSpirit Community is beginning to grow in the United States – starting with Portland, Oregon. More to follow on this soon…meanwhile to read more from John Zimmer, go to his article here.

Chair of TravelSpirit engages the global open source community

Our Chair, and Senior Innovation Officer @TfGM, Si Ho, has addressed to the opensource.com community in an article on open source.com. The opensource.com community has a keen interest in  creating, adopting, and sharing open source solutions and learning about how the open source way is improving technologies, education, business, government, health, law, entertainment and humanitarian efforts. Supported by Red Hat (the world’s leading provider of open source, enterprise IT solutions), more than 60% of Opensource.com content is contributed by members of open source communities, such as TravelSpirit. Other articles on the website are written by the editorial team and other Red Hat contributors.