In April 2017, a man drove a stolen truck into a busy shopping district in central Stockholm and crashed it into a department store, killing four people and injuring 15 others. .
The terrorist attack prompted the Swedish government to investigate how digital technology could be used to prevent incidents of this kind in the future. It has begun a four-year research program to test one type, geographic format, in urban environments.
Geolocation is a virtual tool in which software uses GPS or similar technology to trigger pre-programmed or real-time actions on vehicles to control their movements in an area. geography. It can adjust the speed of a vehicle in the area, determine if the vehicle is in that area, and automatically switch the hybrid vehicle into electric driving mode.
Johannes Berg, senior advisor on digitization at the Swedish Transport Authority, says the technology can improve traffic safety and reduce emissions. It also has the ability to adjust speed based on road and weather conditions, and ensure compliance with regulations, such as stopping if an unlicensed driver enters a geo-fenced area, he said. said more.
For simple uses – such as when a restricted map is downloaded to the vehicle before the start of a trip to automatically slow down when it enters a low speed zone – the vehicle does not need to be connected to the vehicle. outside sources, Mr. Berg said. .
But in more advanced applications – real-time usage, for example – the vehicles must be connected. The rules and regulations reside in a cloud of technology and can be changed based on the physical location of the vehicles, he said. “The cloud service can access the vehicle’s engine using the vehicle’s telematics connection.”
Sweden, which began a series of geofencing tests in 2019, has long been an innovator in the area of vehicle-related safety. In the 1990s, it introduced Vision Zero, a safety approach that took human error into account. The goal is to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by creating multiple layers of protection; If one fails, the others create a safety net.
Sweden currently has one of the lowest rates of accidental death in the world, and many cities around the globe have taken this approach. Earlier this year, the US Department of Transportation officially adopted the strategy to address the sudden increase in the number of deaths in the United States.
In Stockholm, geolocation pilot programs have focused on commercial traffic in the city center, assessing things like whether deliveries to businesses can happen at lower speeds in the morning. night when the street is usually less crowded or not.
“Switching to electric powertrains, combined with lower speeds, could make nighttime truck deliveries almost noiseless,” says Berg. “Increasing deliveries at night can ease congestion during daytime peak hours and create a more even traffic flow around the clock,” improving an area’s quality of life.
In another test, sensors added to the sidewalk monitor the flow of pedestrians, which can trigger speed reduction in pilot vehicles. “The trucks are automatically reducing their speed,” Mr. Berg said.
Gothenburg has taken the lead in testing geolocation on public transport. Since 2015, the city, in partnership with ElectriCity, a regional public-private partnership that includes the Volvo Group, has evaluated the technology on two bus routes. Reviews focus on busy areas such as shopping streets and intersections. The city now has the ability to adjust geofenced areas based on real-time conditions, with bus operators automatically receiving information about changes.
During the test just completed, the bus operated at a safe and fuel-efficient speed in electric drive mode in the specified areas.
“We see geo-fencing as a tool to create a safer city with better air quality and less noise,” said Malin Stoldt, project manager for the Gothenburg Metropolitan Transport Authority. than.
Other pilot projects, some of which are ongoing, include increasing traffic safety around schools and creating smart urban traffic zones to protect cyclists. Geofence technology that prioritizes public transport at complex intersections is already used for daily traffic in Gothenburg.
The geographic format can also contribute to a more dynamic use of city spaces, Stoldt said. “The zones can easily be changed and used for different purposes depending on the time of day or the season.”
Mrs. Stoldt said. At least one more bus route plans to incorporate the technology. Operators also approve geolocation, she said, not just for safety reasons “but also for vehicle wear.”
Rodrigue Al Fahel, principal coordinator of Sweden’s national geolocation program, said geolocation technology has been around for some time and is being used to target messages to phones. mobility based on the phone’s location; commercial fleet management; setting the maximum speed and controlling the parking of the e-scooter; and to enhance some advanced driver assistance systems, such as intelligent speed assist (ISA), will be mandatory for all new vehicles in the European Union starting July.
Sweden is one of the most active countries in testing the geographic system for general transport, said Al Fahel, calling it “an excellent environment for cooperation”.
However, it remains a challenge to collect, standardize, and digitize data on the scale required for widespread deployment of geolocation systems. First, developers have to think of a way to make machine-readable traffic rules and decide communication standards. “This is something that has yet to be fully developed,” said Al Fahel.
However, cooperation in Europe has grown through projects such as GeoSence and NordicWay to support progress.
A recent market analysis and a state-of-the-art report have concluded that the geo format is on the cusp of wider usage. “It’s a tool for cities,” said Al Fahel. “You can plan the city in a different way.”
“We are trying to look at the potential and its effects on transportation and transportation systems. It’s not just about developing the technology, says Al Fahel, but it’s also about creating a system that works and is accepted by all participants.
Berg, of the Swedish Transport Authority, said the pilot program in the final year had yielded promising results that the Swedish government was reviewing traffic amendments and other rules so that traffic could be changed. Cities can use geographic zoning systems to manage traffic.
The use of new technology can raise privacy issues. But one reason the Swedish program is focused on professional drivers rather than private drivers, says Berg, is “we believe it is different when transport is an employer-driven tool.” supply dynamics,” compared with the employer’s ability to regulate the company’s computer.
However, one of the reasons why the European Union is considered to have the safest road system in the world, experts say, is that its member states uphold public responsibility, along with individual rights.
“We recognize that the technology may not be bulletproof to deter terrorists, but when you can make the technology smart and make the transportation system more dynamic,” Berg said. , then you can actually create a sustainable transportation system. “It makes things more efficient.
“The higher aim is safety and sustainability,” he said. “They go together.”