Sunday, April 18, 2021

New university hub to drive UK’s intelligent mobility agenda

As driverless, electric transport becomes more prevalent and smart technologies help us to navigate and connect with the places we live and work, The University of Nottingham has launched a new initiative to ensure such innovations lead to sustainable, healthy and productive cities of the future.

With a virtual presence, TMC@Nottingham (Transport, Mobility and Cities) is the first-of-its-kind in the UK to run in partnership with the Transport Systems Catapult and launched on 20 November.

The University itself will become a living test bed for several of the TMC activities to support its future vision as a smart campus

TMC academics will also work closely with Nottingham City Council in support of its Smart City programme/Future City strategy as well as external stakeholders who have contributed to the shaping and creation of TMC.

Undertaking research focused on the grand challenges of our future society, it will additionally deliver training and education, consultancy, networking and provide thought leadership in the Transport, Mobility and Cities domains.

TMC co-lead, Professor Terry Moore, Director of the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, explains: “Future transport in our smart cities will require new forms of physical, civic and digital infrastructure to enable us to move around.

“These must be designed in new ways, using smart materials, urban planning principles and with residents at the heart of designs to encourage healthy, productive places to live. To realise this future, innovators, researchers and governments will need to work together to implement innovative, sustainable solutions.”

Intelligent mobility expertise 

The University of Nottingham is harnessing its critical mass of research expertise across transport, mobility and cities, with activity spanning multiple disciplines across the institution, from Engineering and Computer Science to Geography and the Business School.

All transport systems will be challenged by the move to electrification. The University is undertaking fundamental research into energy technologies – new sources, harvesting and storing – together with power conversion technologies and smart-grid technologies.

“Projects include the design of vehicle-to-grid technologies, encouraging behaviour change such as increased vehicle sharing, supporting a wider use of renewable energy and energy storage, and developing business models that demonstrate the value of electric vehicles. These can really help us to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and support more sustainable and healthier lifestyles,” explains TMC co-lead, Dr Lucelia Rodrigues, who specialises in sustainable and resilient cities.

“We are not only developing new technologies but also exploring their use in real life projects, such as in our smart campus environment and at the Trent Basin sustainable housing development in Nottingham, where the addition of mobility and transport to the mix will help us to make the most of the community energy assets we developed and install via Project SCENe.”

Green travel

Sustainable transport also needs to be safe, multi-functional and resilient, supporting power as well as transport services while minimising environmental impact and noise pollution.

Modern infrastructure needs to be resilient to increased traffic and extreme weather. It must also be integrated with power grids to both exploit renewable energy and deliver charging infrastructure that will be integrated with road networks and buildings and power systems.

The University is already conducting research into modelling techniques to predict ways to safety of engineering systems to build resilience and recovery after hazards such as flooding, heatwaves or man-made disasters. It has worked on different modes of transport, including rail, with capabilities in passenger information and disruption and public safety, including track suicide and trespass.

Meanwhile, a data-driven approach in Human Factors is supporting research in behavioural segmentation and predictive modelling techniques to support personalised journeys of the future and the design and evaluation of human-machine interface technologies for driverless vehicles.

“Understanding passenger decision-making and needs is important for identifying appropriate levels for embedding new technologies. Our capabilities include the systems modelling of passenger experience and the modelling of social media interactions. We have carried out research into passenger movement and accessibility to enhance the overall passenger experience,” said Professor Sarah Sharples, Professor of Human Factors at the University and co-founder of TMC@Nottingham.

Digital-led innovation

Highly efficient transportation requires smart systems with digital communication infrastructure, sophisticated sensor systems, computer-based modelling, data science and artificial intelligence tools. Digital communications infrastructure will support highly connected mobility within cities.

The University has expertise in low-cost precision navigation and positioning technologies that can be integrated with sensor to give road users accurate information, along with wireless communication to increase data sharing between vehicles, which is essential for a world of self-driving cars.

Beata Szoboszlai, Head of Academic Engagement, Transport Systems Catapult, said: “We have been extremely proud to work with the University of Nottingham on the development of TMC@Nottingham. Bringing industry, academia and government closer together to address the challenges facing modern transport systems and cities is a vital piece of the puzzle both to creating sustainable solutions and ensuring the UK leads in this area.

“Intelligent Mobility, encompassing a range of technologies which enable new ways of providing transport, will be a global market worth £1.4 trillion by 2030 and initiatives like TMC@Nottingham will provide the engine for UK competition in this space.”

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