There is little doubt that the automobile has been the most revolutionary invention in the history of transportation since the discovery of the wheel. And since 1889, when Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach introduced the first 1.5 horsepower, two-cylinder gas-powered car, the automobile industry has been evolving, growing, and changing. We are now at a point when modern life is challenging the current transportation industry archetype, creating an urgent need for change. A growing portion of the world’s population – almost 70%1 – resides in cities where increasing mobility has given way to traffic congestion, noise pollution, safety concerns and the resulting negative environmental impacts. Traffic congestion alone costs municipalities, companies and consumers billions each year – nearly 100 billion Euro or 1% of the EU’s GDP per annum. Road safety on crowded streets is another major concern — it’s estimated 40% of CO2 emissions and 70%1 of other pollutants are caused by motorized transport alone. With our growing awareness of the interconnectedness of CO2 pollution and environmental destruction, conventional solutions such as expanding road infrastructure are no longer viable to assuage transportation system challenges.
Governments, car manufactures, and consumers are realizing that wireless technology holds the key to changing travel lifestyles and cleaning up, greening up, and optimizing modern transportation systems. Of course, M2M (machine-to-machine) vehicle telematics on its own cannot fully mitigate the global challenges of automotive traffic. Wireless ITS (intelligent transportations systems) work in conjunction with telematics transmitting realtime data about traffic and the environment to drive the Internet Of Things (IOT) , i.e., the networked interconnection of everyday objects; in this case, cars, busses, traffic lights, roads with embedded sensors, and emergency road crews, among others.
A Vision of Intelligent Transportation
M2M-enabled technology has the power to improve transportation systems in five significant areas: road safety, navigation, environmental impact, freight and logistics management, and traffic management. Imagine the convenience, ease, and safety of an intelligent transportation system that provides realtime weather and road conditions, automatically alerting travelers of hazards such as accidents or ice on roadways. The vehicle’s onboard M2M solution would immediately suggest alternative routes and modified driving strategies, e.g., braking and decreasing speed to safeguard travelers from accidents. If accidents occur, the onboard M2M system will automatically contact the nearest PSAP (public safety answering point), communicating vital information such as time of incident, location of vehicle, vehicle description, VIN (vehicle identification number), registered owner, etc. Emergency roadside assistance can be dispatched immediately to shorten response time and save lives.
Today, M2M fleet management solutions provide truck drivers with realtime route updates and driving instructions to save time and fuel while optimizing fleet productivity. The smart truck can even automatically call ahead to schedule unloading appointments, maintenance and repairs when needed, improving efficiency and fuel economy. All of this has a positive impact on the environment by reducing the overall amount of fuel consumed and CO2 deposited in the atmosphere.
M2M is crucial enabling technology to support an unmanned and widely distributed EV (electric vehicle) charging infrastructure. M2M offers an easy and flexible way to connect individual eCars to charging stalls, charging stalls to the station’s control center, and the control center to smart grids and utility companies. An M2M enabled EV charging system securely automates tasks for refueling such as secure identification, fueling speed, payment procedures, and even communication with drivers and vehicles. As the EV charging infrastructure grows, the adoption of clean-burning, electric cars, trucks and public transportation systems will expand as well as ultimately leading to less CO2 in the atmosphere.
Additionally, it is estimated the use of M2M technology and complementary ITS solutions to help guide driving behavior can save up to 20% in fuel consumption overall. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates each American driver travels about 12,000 miles a year, spreading approximately 5.48 metric tons of CO2 pollution into the atmosphere.2 A 20% reduction in fuel consumption means 2.4 pounds less CO2 in our atmosphere – per person!
Intelligent M2M transportation technology, in all its forms, has the power to change the future. And the good news is all this technology exists today!
The Old Hen and Egg Dilemma
The challenge for making this vision a reality is interoperability. Industry coalitions such as ERTICO (Europe’s Intelligent Transportation System Organization), ERA-GLONASS (Russia’s ITS organization) and many other governmental and industry ITS bodies around the globe, are working together to define industry standards for open-ended technology platforms that can connect our world in unprecedented ways. Open platforms ease integration and enable seamless communication across national borders and different wireless networks in a wide variety of automotive applications: parking meters and warehouse door sensors that notify drivers of empty spots and unloading docks; sensors in roadbeds that indicate highway conditions; GPS antennas for almost instantaneous updates on routes; traffic sensors that provide estimated travel times between two points and much more. With open platforms, ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) can be designed to order, combining a variety of services from cargo management solutions to real-time traffic information to GPS route guidance applications and more. Aftermarket devices such as infotainment systems and backup gateways can also be networked into open platforms solutions.
Based on up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information, the informed driver is safer and more efficient which gives way to improvements in environmental impact. And the overall impacts of widely adopted wireless telematics and ITS systems are dynamic improvements in urban freight delivery and logistics, better traffic management, fewer delivery delays, lower transportation costs, reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and happier, less stressed drivers.
Automotive M2M Comes of Age
There are many opportunities for M2M ITS systems to make their mark on history. In addition to industry coalitions, governments and municipalities around the world are passing legislation for embedded communication technologies to improve our roadways, business practices and overall quality of life. For instance, Action 19, a strategy for improved urban mobility adopted by the European Commission in 2009, outlines a plan for reducing the impact of increased traffic congestion, number of vehicles and pollution on city life. The EU Directive 2010/40 details a worldwide governmental ITS plan that includes ecall across all country borders, multimodal travel information services, standards for universal real-time traffic information and more. In addition, many municipalities are implementing “last mile” programs or elogistics solutions that address the specific challenges of distribution from a consolidation center (typically outside city limits) to the end consumer. For instance, a recent consolidation center experiment in London3 resulted in:
• 75% reduction in CO2 emissions
• 68% reduction in vehicles traveling to the site
• 25% reduction in accidents/injuries
• 15% reduction in materials wasted and reduced cost of managing logistics in and of itself
About the Author As vice president of strategy and marketing for Cinterion Wireless Modules, Axel Hansmann brings more than 15 years of telecommunications and technology management experience to the management team. In this role, he’s responsible for developing strategies to drive business growth in new and existing markets, enhancing the customer experience worldwide and building brand awareness as the market leader in M2M technology. Before joining Cinterion, Mr. Hansmann was with boardeleven Management Consultants where he focused on evaluating market entry and strategic growth options in the M2M industry for a leading module manufacturer and mobile network operators. Prior to that, he worked for eight years at Telefónica O2, a leading telecommunications carrier in Europe where he took on various responsibilities covering network technology, product management and business strategy. Mr. Hansmann speaks multiple languages and earned degrees in electrical engineering and telecommunications management.