* Guest blog post by Gabriel Simcic, iMobility Challenge Coordinator at Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
If you go to the Valkenburg airfield on 11th September to attend the iMobility Challenge event, you might think you are observing a scene from “back to future” or the TV series “Knight rider” and its advanced, artificially intelligent car. Cars driving around with no driver at the steering wheel, cars able to communicate with one another and alert the drivers of looming dangers, cars that call emergency services by themselves to rescue the driver in case of an accident… all these and many more innovative technologies will be demonstrated at the Valkenburg airfield near The Hague, in front of a thousand people who will gather to get a taste of the future of mobility: iMobility.
“iMobility” stands for “intelligent mobility” and refers to all new vehicle systems that remedy the ills of road transportation: road accidents, pollution, congestion, delays. It is about combining innovative technologies that make driving cleaner, safer and more efficient, but also more fun. It means solutions that will increase drivers’ comfort and safety, but at the same time spare the environment and the drivers’ wallets.
We've all had those days: rushing around, trying to get the groceries done and pick up your kid from school in time. As you think you’re about to make it, it hits you, a big traffic jam ahead of you: standstill. Or worst yet, while your mind is someplace else thinking about your never-ending ‘to-do’ list, the car in front of you stops and you rear-end it. With real time traffic information on-board, cars that take over when you become distracted, and connected cars that communicate with one another as well as the infrastructure, this type of accidents can become something of the past.
With growing numbers of people who want to move around in our cities, but with limited space for new transport infrastructures, and the menace of climate change, it is becoming urgent to find solutions to improve the way we go from A to B. The field of transport engineering and traffic management that relies on information and communication technologies to develop those solutions is called ‘ITS’: Intelligent Transport Systems.
The vision of everybody sitting around in completely autonomous, driverless cars, may be something of the not so near future. But automakers are already developing complex systems that allow cars to drive themselves. They're furthering existing technologies such as self-parking and adaptive cruise control, that make driving increasingly automated. You may even be surprised to find out that your current car probably features systems that rely on automation, such as electronic stability control, whereby your car intervenes to prevent you from slipping in critical situations.
The goal of the “iMobility Challenge” project, and its event at Valkenburg will be to demonstrate that technological maturity may not be the greatest worry when it comes to introducing such technologies. The speed at which developments take place is dizzying, with manufacturers introducing new systems in their cars every year, at a pace hard to follow for consumers. Non-technological barriers to the introduction of such developments, such as user acceptance, financial aspects, or legislative aspects may well be as critical as technological advancements. In the end it is when a technology is judged to bring great societal benefits that legislators should intervene. The “eCall” system that the European Commission aims to have installed in all cars from October 2015 is a perfect example. eCall is expected to save 2500 lives on European roads every year thanks to improved emergency response times when accidents occur.
Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile
iMobility Challenge Coordinator
iMobility Challenge is an FP7 project coordinated by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Its aim is to campaign to accelerate the deployment of intelligent mobility systems and raise consumer awareness of the benefits of new vehicle technologies. The project is supporting a European Commission initiative, the iMobility Forum: a vast network of organisations working together to accelerate the deployment of ITS.