Connected Vehicles in Smart Cities: The Future of Transportation

The prospect of greater urban concentrations brings challenges to urban mobility. 5G networks, connected transport, and IoT bring solutions to municipalities.
Susan Fourtané
Smart Mobility Congress/Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

The upgrade to 5G networks is not only going to transform industries, businesses, and consumers with intelligent connectivity. Low-latency connectivity plays a paramount role enabling an array of smart city applications including smart urban agriculture to real-time detection of crime to intelligent traffic management and, of course, self-driving cars.

Mobile networks and services can both help municipalities improve and manage transport through a city either by car, public transport, or on foot. Mobility is changing rapidly around the world. Passengers and travellers are given more options with added flexibility in how they get from point A to point B.

How future cities manage transport will also change as the result of citizens becoming increasingly demanding. The cities' local governments are thus going to employ more diverse and innovative means of transport. Autonomous drones used as air taxis for a solo passenger are also going to be seen frequently in the skies, together with other means of air mobility. 

Connecting transport and IoT in a smart city

In the recent Smart Mobility Congress in Barcelona, Spain global industry leaders discussed future transport options in a smart city. In just a few years' time, transport can become much more efficient and relevant through the use of connected sensors, big data, mobile applications, and mobile payments. As they provide the connectivity that is enabling these changes, mobile operators are best placed to advise on how to meet the different transportation challenges of the future.

Cities are getting smarter every day. Municipalities are increasingly using information and communication technologies (ICT) to enrich and enhance city life, which is paramount in planning the cities of the future. The rapid growth and expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) result in a fundamental impact on the development of smart cities and their mobility options.

The IoT drives efficiencies and delivers rich new services that have a positive impact in urban life. However, without effective strategies in place, cities can be unable to capitalize on these benefits.

As part of the GSMA Connected Living programme, an initiative that lets operators add value and accelerate the delivery of new connected devices and services in the Internet of Things (IoT), the Smart Cities project is collaborating with mobile operators and a number of cities to create real, long-term benefits for businesses and citizens through IoT technologies.

Connecting vehicles to their surroundings 

A wide array of applications, services, and technologies can connect a vehicle to other vehicles (V2V), to the infrastructure, and to its surroundings. A connected vehicle includes the different communication devices, which can be embedded or portable, present in the vehicle that enables in-car connectivity with other devices present in the same vehicle.

A connected vehicle also enables connection of the vehicle to external devices, networks, applications, and services. These applications can include anything and everything from traffic safety and efficiency, infotainment, parking assistance, roadside assistance, remote diagnostics, and telematics to autonomous self-driving vehicles and global positioning systems (GPS).

What is a connected vehicle?

Typically, within the scale of the six levels of autonomous driving, vehicles that include interactive advanced driver-assistance systems (ADASs) and cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) can be regarded as connected. Connected-vehicle safety applications are designed to increase situation awareness and mitigate traffic accidents through Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications.

ADAS technology can be based on vision/camera systems, sensor technology, vehicle data networks, V2V, or V2I systems. Features may include adaptive cruise control, automate braking, incorporate GPS and traffic warnings, connect to smartphones, alert the driver to hazards, and keep the driver aware of what is in the blind spot.

In terms of safety, V2V communication technology could mitigate traffic collisions and improve traffic congestion by exchanging basic safety information such as location, speed, and direction between vehicles within range of each other. It can supplement active safety features, such as forward collision warning and blind-spot detection. 

Connected vehicles technologies are also going to be a fundamental component of automated driving as they will allow the exchange of sensor and awareness data among vehicles, cooperative localization and map updating, as well as facilitate cooperative maneuvers between automated vehicles. 

Electric cars and smart cities

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 / Source: Tesla 

Perhaps Tesla is the most talked about of all electric cars, even though there are many other auto-makers in the electric and connected vehicle market as well. According to InsideEVs, Tesla Model 3 was the number one selling plug-in electric car in Canada for September 2018. This comes along with the news that Tesla Model 3 is the safest car that has has been tested, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Electric cars contribute to reducing air pollution in smart cities and also to fighting climate change. Elon Musk  and others in the automotive industry are committed to a future of vehicles that are 100 percent electric and autonomous. 

Smart parking solutions

Parking solutions systems optimise parking space usage in urban cities in a way that is smart, efficient, and contributes to a better traffic flow. There are several ideas and companies around the world working toward how to make smart parking systems sustainable and useful to help the needs of the different cities. 

Electric car-sharing services 

One of the most celebrated current solutions for urban mobility is electric car-sharing services. Several automakers are getting onboard with their car-sharing brands. This new urban mobility solution is especially popular with younger generations with an increasing interest in all electric vehicles and less interest in vehicle ownership. 

electric car share
Electric car-share in Brussels, Belgium / Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

IEEE Connected Vehicles Initiative calling all engineers

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Connected Vehicles Initiative seeks to promote technical activities, networking, publications, standards, and access to technical information in connected vehicles. The Connected Vehicles initiative seeks to create and participate in new and innovative Connected Vehicles activities and is open for participation to all communities of engineers, practitioners, researchers, and developers involved in the development, deployment, and promotion of connected vehicles technologies.

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