City driving is no fun. With gridlocked roads, multi-lane traffic and baffling one-way systems, it’s no wonder motoring in the metropolis is a hotbed of tension. To combat this, scientific evolution is manoeuvring into the fast lane.
Hi-tech on the highways
Driving is at the forefront of the digital age. The past decade has already seen a wealth of technological breakthroughs. Think about any mass-produced motor these days and the standard features are a stunning array of hi-tech progression and discovery. With assisted parking, collision detection, GPS and app-controlled functionality, the modern road vehicle is a smart device on four wheels, and we can summon one from our mobile phones thanks to services like Uber.
But how long until that hailed car comes without a driver?
Where we’re going, we don’t need drivers
Many believe the future is automated cars: smart vehicles connected to their environment, relying on data feeds processed by the millisecond to allow safe, direct travel from point to point – sans driver. Sounds unlikely? Think of GPS as the first baby steps towards such a move and it all becomes a little less fantastical.
In fact, the dawn of driverless vehicles is closer than you may have thought. British engineering outfit RDM Group is currently testing a range of L-SATS (low-speed autonomous transport system) vehicles: small pod-like vehicles that move at slow speeds to ferry people or cargo across short distances.
RDM’s driverless pods adapt to their surroundings thanks to a network of lasers placed at strategic points around the chassis. The on-board computers can make calculations to make sense of the environment within milliseconds. RDM Group’s pods are the smartest things on four wheels, which is why we’re delighted that RDM Group used SOLIDWORKS 3D to draft ideas, manipulate design iterations and simulate how it’s creations would move and behave in the real world.
Yet without a solid infrastructure, connected cars might never get out of second gear.
That’s where smart cities come in.
Bright lights, smart city
The Smart Cities Council is a global initiative that seeks to promote sustainable living spaces that harness the power of digital technology. A major component of that ideal is transportation – a vehicle network vital to the smooth running of any city.
The Smart Cities Council touts the merits of a synergistic system. Think of it as an automated traffic network that recognises heavy traffic and responds appropriately; self-driving cars feeding data to the infrastructure to provide up-to-the-second notifications on the bustle of the roads.
Whilst it might sound fanciful for now, there is serious investment in the connected car industry. Toyota and Microsoft are pushing ahead with advanced driving technologies based on data analytics and mobile programs. Ford, Audi, BMW and Mercedes are also carving their own connected path in the autonomous car journey. Self-driving saloons are ready to drive themselves off the blueprints and onto our city streets.
It’s progress that’s going to need the best minds at its helm. From data analysts to communication experts, civil engineers and masters at IT, the road to smart cars in smart cities will need to be paved with even smarter minds. Are you ready for the challenge?