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Swedish road transport takes centre stage

The ‘Transport Research Arena’ (TRA) 2006 conference brought researchers, businesspeople and decision-makers to Göteborg, Sweden, for four days of talks, presentations and exchange. But the conference programme also gave participants the chance to see some of the world’s most advanced road transport facilities and initiatives up close and in action.

Volvo crash test
Volvo crash test

The city of Göteborg and its surroundings are a major road transport research hotspot. TRA 2006 participants and journalists were treated to a variety of excursions that highlighted the activities of leading road transport players in the region.

Lindholmen Science Park

”People, organisations and companies from around the world have made this place their home,” said Lindholmen Science Park Vice-President Niklas Wahlberg. These include Ericsson, Volvo Car Corporation, AB Volvo, Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University. Built to accommodate 10 000 workers and students, Lindholmen Science Park (LSP) is located on the north bank of the river Göta, in a dynamic development area that is injecting new life into the old Göteborg harbour. The overall aim is to promote cross-disciplinary communication and co-operation between companies and research and academic institutions, to foster increased innovation, international competitiveness and growth.

TRA 2006 participants saw a number of presentations by leading road transport experts now working at LSP. They then toured the modern and inspirational Navet building, featuring state-of-the-art business and research facilities and a major conference centre.

One of the key areas of overlapping interest among LSP players is in the use of advanced information and communication technologies, explained Torbjörn Biding of the Swedish Road Administration. Intelligent vehicles and transport systems are major priorities for the road industry, aimed at developing important logistical and transport solutions for the future.

‘Open Arena Lindholmen’ is a new strategic concept aimed at linking research programmes to various need-based projects or ‘test arenas’ and laboratories for developing, testing and demonstrating new technological solutions. Officials say that by making academic education and research available in close proximity to industrial development activities, expertise can be harnessed more effectively. Similarly, academic research can also benefit by gaining increased industrial and social relevance.

AB Volvo and Volvo Car Corporation

The visit to Volvo’s Göteborg facilities included one of the most spectacular demonstrations ever staged for a public audience. After presentations by staff members, including Lars-Göran Rosengren, President and CEO of Volvo Technology Corporation, guests watched a live crash test, complete with test dummies, at Volvo Cars’ world-leading safety centre.

After the smash-up, which involved one car hurtling sidelong into another at 50kph, guests were allowed onto the test floor to inspect the damage and pose questions. The facility boasts several state-of-the-art testing beds designed to model every aspect of automobile collisions, from frontal barrier impact to detailed examinations of human impact with interior components, such as car stereos and steering wheels.

Participants also went for a ride in AB Volvo's new hybrid bus and got an up-close look at other state-of-the-art Volvo vehicles. Rosengren stressed Volvo’s safety-first approach but also its dedication to systems integration, including vehicles, transport infrastructure and policy initiatives.

Göta Tunnel

Göta Tunnel
Göta Tunnel

The Göta Tunnel is one of Göteborg’s largest ever road projects and features innovative solutions to improve traffic flow, safety, accessibility and air quality as well as reduce noise. The tunnel represents a major improvement for Göteborg’s southern riverbank area, making room for waterfront development, bike paths, cultural and maritime centres, shops, cafés and restaurants, and possibly a park near the famous Göteborg Opera House.

TRA 2006 participants toured the new facility on the day before its official opening, thus going ‘where no man has gone before’ to get a first-hand look at this exciting and innovative road infrastructure initiative.

Together, the TRA 2006 technical excursions confirmed what most participants already knew, that Sweden, and the city of Göteborg in particular, are at the leading edge of road transport innovation and technical excellence, a model for the rest of Europe and the world.