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If you're an avid reader of IoT Tech, or just follow the industry, you'll know the Internet of Things is still a mess of standards vying for attention. A new "i-Motors" project is jumping in the fray and hopes to finally standardise how connected vehicles communicate with one another, and to other machines in a bid to make our cities smarter.
A potential key difference with this project is the backing of the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) who awarded it with £1.32m via the Innovate UK programme. Other partners in the i-Motors project have contributed an extra £375k – bringing total funding to around £1.7 million.
The aforementioned partners include the University of Nottingham's Geospatial Institute and Human Factors Research Group, digital technology company Control F1, traffic management specialists InfoHub Ltd, remote sensing experts Head Communications, and telecoms firm Huduma.
This radical change in the driver-car relationship requires considerable human factors research.
With most people travelling by car – for work or leisure – the roads are getting increasingly congested which leads to air pollution, poor health, less productivity, and increased frustration. Governments around the world are seeking to harness opportunities like the Internet of Things for making their cities smarter.
Dr Xiaolin Meng, Associate Professor and UK Director of Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre at the University of Nottingham, says: "We look forward to using our geospatial expertise and research to design a new data-sharing platform for autonomous vehicles. An intelligent mobility project such as i-Motors will allow us to work directly with industry to help make road use safer and more efficient."
The production of connected cars in the UK – with inbuilt telematics devices – is predicted to rise from around 0.8 million in 2015 to 2 million in 2025, accounting for 95% of all cars produced in the UK. It's clear that smarter vehicles will be key to building smarter cities.
i-Motors plans on establishing a set of universal standards for vehicular communication with the IoT, along with taking advantage of connected cars' ability to run applications. A mobile platform will be developed by experts from Control F1 and academics from Nottingham University to allow vehicles to share data regardless of manufacturer.
Andy Dumbell, Control F1's Managing Director, said: "Connected and driverless cars offer us the opportunity to make huge strides in terms of reducing congestion, bringing down emissions, and even saving lives. Yet as is always the case when dealing with big data, it's only effective if you know how to use it. We believe that through i-Motors we can set the standard for connected and autonomous vehicles and redefine the future of our streets, highways and cities."
Just one example of i-Motors' current work includes capitalising on the experience of traffic management experts InfoHub Ltd to combine vehicle data with other sources like weather reports, event data, and traffic feeds, in order to help ease congestion through real-time updates and route planning.
Governments around the world are seeking to harness opportunities like the Internet of Things for making their cities smarter.
Another planned innovation allows vehicles to report errors, which can be automatically crosschecked against similar reports to diagnose the problem and reduce the chance of a breakdown ahead of time and take the necessary action to increase safety and prevent further damage.
i-Motors will address the issue of limited connectivity by developing sensors capable of transmitting data to the cloud in real-time. Through installing these sensors – known as Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) – vehicles can remain connected with sub-metre precision, even when out of internet and GPS range. The project will make use of Huduma's experience working on telecoms solutions on a global scale to make i-Motors sustainable and commercially successful in the long term.
Technology developed by the i-Motors partners will be piloted in Nottingham, Coventry, and Sheffield, where the project has received the support of each local council. Live vehicle data will be provided by Ford, who has an existing and ongoing relationship with the University of Nottingham.
Dr Gary Burnett, Associate Professor in Human Factors, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, says: "With 90 per cent of vehicle crashes largely down to human error, the next step change in driving safety can only really happen if you relieve the driver from certain tasks. This radical change in the driver-car relationship requires considerable human factors research to ensure users of future vehicles trust and accept the new information and services on offer. We will use our 'state of the art' immersive driving simulator to investigate how to design connected and autonomous vehicles to ensure the potential of the technology can be realised."
What are your thoughts about the i-Motors project? Let us know in the comments.
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