Smart solutions to alleviate urban congestion
An EU-funded project involving collaboration between top intelligent transport researchers has resulted in new developments in smart urban transport, support for emergency response vehicles and apps for smoother passenger transport across cities.
© Andrii IURLOV #19013550, source: fotolia.com 2019
With rising numbers of vehicles on the roads and increasingly urgent air pollution concerns, transport in cities is an ever-more complex issue in many areas across Europe. Long, time-consuming traffic jams, emergency vehicles unable to make quick progress to incidents and rising levels of harmful carbon emissions are all problems that could be addressed by emerging intelligent transport systems.
Looking to develop innovative solutions to urban mobility problems and trigger sustainable institutional changes to raise the profile of the University of ilina (UNIZA) in Slovakia a university specialising in transport and communications the EU-funded ERADIATE project brought top researchers to the university under a five-year project.
Our project attracted several international researchers to UNIZA both from Europe and internationally, for example from Italy, Iran and Canada, hugely raising its research profile and advancing our knowledge in intelligent transport systems, says Tatiana Kováčiková, European Research Area Chair holder (ERA Chair) of ERADIATE.
The ERA Chair action is part of the Widening programme aimed at reducing the research and innovation gap of the less-performing countries in Europe. The first of the three actions (twinning and teaming), it is designed to attract top academics and researchers to universities with a strong potential for research excellence, under the supervision of an outstanding researcher known as the ERA Chair holder. The grant is an accompanying measure and funds the salaries of the ERA chair holder and her/her team. The ERA chair holder is selected by the ERA Chair institution using the ERA principles of fair, open and transparent recruitment procedures.
During the project, the ERADIATE team instigated changes, including building a strategic partnership between the city of Bratislava and ilina, paving the way for further cooperation on R&I projects. The team also translated administrative documents into English to widen the universitys reach and deliver sustainable research excellence.
The team gained further funding for three targeted smart transport projects under the ERADIATE project umbrella. Through the project, we unlocked the potential for research excellence by attracting outstanding researchers with proven excellence and management skills, say professors Milan Dado and Ladislav Janouek, the ERADIATE project coordinators.
Connecting transport modes
The project focused on cooperative intelligent transport systems, which involved developing digital solutions to connect all the different modes of transport across a city, including underground networks, buses, trams, trains, cars, bikes and emergency vehicles. Overall, it aimed to smooth the flow of traffic and improve the efficiency of city journeys.
Under ERADIATE, the H2020 MOTIV project created an app that helps users to find the quickest way to get from A to B within a city in real-time via their mobile phone. The app tracks a users daily activities, allowing it to compute and predict their transport needs and expectations. The next step in the apps development will be to integrate emerging technologies such as autonomous cars. Researchers also developed systems to allow cars to communicate with transport infrastructure such as traffic lights, and with other vehicles via dashboard apps to make transport smarter.
Collaboration between researchers under MOTIV also paved the way for another new Slovak-Israeli project called SENECA which focuses on emergency response vehicles. In general, there are problems for emergency vehicles getting to an incident or to hospital every second is needed in these situations, says Dado. The project is working on an IT system to support emergency vehicles that will enable them to communicate with cars in their way, as well as with transport infrastructure such as traffic lights.
Thanks to ERADIATE, UNIZA is now working with the European Commissions Joint Research Centre in energy and transport modelling through the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership. All in all, ERADIATE acted as a catalyst to boost our involvement with forerunners in European research institutes and with stakeholders, says Janouek.
The ERADIATE team also organised two international conferences: Intelligent Transport Systems a Tool or a Toy?, focusing on research and innovation opportunities and challenges for autonomous driving, and Intelligent Transport Systems From Research and Development to Market Uptake, organised with the European Alliance for Innovation.
With the project now over, the ERADIATE team has been transformed into a new department for European research and innovation projects at UNIZA. International researchers are working on connected and autonomous vehicles, current trends and future perspectives for sustainable and smart mobility, and smart cities for people.