Taking the smart road towards efficient transport


Publicerad 2013-06-27

The Smart Mobility Lab is taking transportation data and using it to build models that will make roads safer, ease traffic and reduce emissions. A prime example of this is research on heavy duty vehicle platoons.

Jonas Mårtensson

Imagine four or five 18-meter-long trucks running in a “train” down the motorway, each truck only three meters apart. Thanks to researchers from KTH EE’s new Smart Mobility Lab, these convoys could soon be safe, energy-efficient and time saving reality.

The Smart Mobility Lab is a model-based lab focused on information and communication technologies for smart and energy–efficient transportation. One specific goal is to demonstrate that cooperative vehicle systems — such as heavy-duty vehicle platoons — can lead to improved accessibility, fewer traffic jams, lower fuel consumption and emissions, plus increased safety levels.

The lab has been equipped with a motion capture system consisting of 12 infrared cameras. This system provides indoor localisation that can be used by model vehicles in the same way as a gps would be used by real vehicles. In the near future, there are plans for integrating traffic simulation models and real-time traffic data into the research performed at the lab.

“With modern communication and sensor technologies, there is an enormous amount of traffic and environment data available,” says Jonas Mårtensson, a researcher at the department for Automatic Control and the ACCESS Linnaeus Centre. “We must first take all the data and turn it into useful information, and then we use it for energy-efficient control of everything from individual vehicles to entire fleets. We coordinate the vehicles on the road and optimise their routes, taking into account the road topography and the current traffic situation, among other things.”

But the challenge is not just to create more efficient systems but also to keep them safe. Panagiotis Papadimitratos, Associate Professor of Communication Networks, also an access researcher, has been working for years to identify where transport systems are vulnerable and then build in safety and defence mechanisms.

“Smart systems mean that more and more data about our everyday lives and businesses go through that system,” he says. “And the more devices you put out there, the more likely they won’t be protected enough.”

The next step for researchers is to start model-based implementations, which will enable them to test more advanced scenarios based on information infrastructures that are not yet feasible to implement in real traffic.

Among other benefits, vehicle-to-vehicle communication enables smoother adaptive cruise control, which saves fuel, and could also potentially optimize a vehicle’s speed with respect to the topography of the road ahead, which has been shown to give fuel savings of up to three per cent on certain types of roads.

With aerodynamic inprovements included, the potential fuel and CO2 emissions savings could rise by as much as 15 per cent.

For more information, contact Jonas Mårtensson,  jonas1@kth.se

text Nathan hegedus | photo Scania