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Smart Industry 1/2018

Smart Industry 1/2018 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica


Smart Business Toll Systems only use their cars twice a day: once to get to work in the morning and again in the evenings to drive home. Things are going from bad to worse in a hurry London is a good indicator of what lies in store for other urban areas. The number of private-hire vehicles that entered the CCZ at least once rose from 50,000 in March 2013 to 85,000 in November 2016. The number of licensed drivers rose from 67,000 to 115,500 over the same period. It can only get worse. Self-driving cars are set to join the stream of vehicles moving in, out, and around the most congested areas in the next couple of years. Most scenarios forecast a noticeable decline in direct car ownership as a result, with people preferring to call up a driverless car from Uber or others, which means that the number of car owners to tax will probably decrease as well. Even today, private-hire vehicles make up 38% of car traffic in Central London, almost double the share of traditional black taxicabs. Economists point out that electric vehicles of the future will lower all governments’ tax revenues further. Owners pay no fuel taxes and, at least today, are often granted generous government subsidies. On the other hand, the call is out for authorities to help finance the basic infrastructure for e-mobiles, such as on-street charging stations. A growing number of experts are calling for a way to pay the costs of car use that would be fairer than taxing fuel and ownership. Instead, they argue, governments should institute general road-usage taxes for all: a per-kilometer charge that would vary depending on the vehicle’s weight and how much pollution it emits. Owners of big, gasguzzling SUVs, for instance, would pay proportionately more than someone with a lowly Fiat Panda. Charges could also be adjusted so vehicle owners in densely populated areas pay more than suburb dwellers. Technology will play a central role in the introduction of road pricing. As in any area of technology, prices will Stop&Go in Singapore Singapore has the world’s most comprehensive road-pricing system which is camera-based. It plans to introduce a new GPS-based one in 2020 Thousands of self-driving cars are set to join the stream of vehicles moving in, out and around the most congested areas in a few years fall as systems mature and become more commonplace. Smartphones are ubiquitous today even in countries like Bangladesh or Brazil, where traffic congestion already reaches nightmarish levels and can only get worse. As automobiles and trucks increasingly connect to the Internet, it will become increasingly easy to track them, especially in conjunction with GPS satnav systems. Singapore is showing the rest of the world the way here. It introduced paper permits to control access to its central zone way back in 1975. In 2008, the city-state went electronic. Every three months, the toll fees are adjusted to account for average speeds, so if traffic slows down, tolls go up automatically. Pay-as-you-go, only now in real time In 2020, Singapore plans to roll out a completely new system that relies on GPS signals. It will adjust the amount drivers pay depending on distance, time, location, and vehicle. It is hoped that this will reduce the need for camera-bearing gantries that spot vehicles driving in and out of the downtown area. It will invoice drivers in real time, sending notifications about the amount deducted from their bank account or credit card as well as traffic information and tips on how gridlocked areas of the city can be avoided. In the United States, there are at least two major road-pricing schemes being implemented currently. By far the most ambitious is Orego in Oregon, which kicked off in 2015 and now has around 1,500 subscribers. Drivers have devices fitted in their cars that take data from their engines’ computers. The gadgets record the distance driven and the amount of fuel used, and transmit the data via mobile networks. Motorists are charged based on how far they drive, with each mile costing 1.5 cents. This amount is then deducted from the state fuel tax each driver has paid and refunds are credited directly. As governments increasingly start to track vehicles, and the citizens inside them, concerns about data privacy are growing in leaps and bounds. Tech firms and carmakers are also competing to gain access to the mountains of data the drivers create. This can be used to upsell additional services based on the location of the vehicle, its condition (by using sensors to suggest when it’s time to head for the next garage), or how it's driven. The latter will play a key role in creating the algorithms that will steer driverless cars in the future. In the US, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has voiced concerns in the past about the Oregon project, and others. They worry about data being leaked or stolen. In Europe, EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger pointed out in an interview with Smart Industry (see SI 01/16) that in Europe, as well as in the States, it is far from clear to whom data generated by smart cars actually belongs – the car’s owner or its manufacturer? Clearing this up is conceivable. The Economist explains: “Once motorists have become used to the idea of paying for the road space they take up, rates could be tweaked to account for the noise, pollution and the risk of collisions in each location.” Time will tell. 24