Smart Transportation – Its Evolution and Way Ahead

Locomotion is the most basic form of movement from the pre-historic era. The ability to move from one location to another has always proved to be a blessing; be it hunting other animals or running for survival. Transport of goods and people on land was done using the strength of animals, after the invention of wheels. After the invention of steam engine, long distance transportation of material and people became possible, but there wasn’t any efficient solution for their movement for a short distance. Along with industrial revolution, clusters of the population started living together in small areas giving rise to a need for a transportation medium for this large population. Soon, with the adoption of the assembly line, manufacturing of automobiles became a feasible paving way for a faster, more efficient medium of transportation. Moving ahead a century, today’s modern world is saturated with automobiles. Automobile industry contributes from 6-12% of a developed nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Along with increasing number of vehicles on the roads, there arise some problems like rising number of road accidents, increased CO2 emissions from the vehicles, traffic congestion, etc. According to studies conducted, an average person in the U.S. spends about 42 hours every year stuck in traffic jam. This has led to the introduction of more sophisticated and smart technologies known as Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) or Smart Transportation.

The smart transportation system is a technologically advanced transportation system which aims to improve transportation infrastructure and the mechanism by implementing innovative services and systems to effectively tackle the problems of the traditional traffic management and transportation system. Smart transportation system relies on its key components: smart infrastructure, smart automobiles and intelligent transportation system. Smart infrastructure includes the use of latest communication systems like integrated traffic supervision and surveillance systems, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, radio frequency transmission, global positioning system (GPS), use of cloud-based services for better integration and analysis of real-time data, etc. Intelligent transportation system includes intelligent video management system traffic management systems which provides real-time data about traffic updates and effectively guides and navigates vehicles with a route of least traffic, ticket management systems by providing tickets when parking and guiding vehicles to vacant parking spots, parking & guidance systems to provide ease in parking and help people navigate with ease by giving them real-time available parking status, passenger information system which provides real-time transit and traffic information about timings, frequency, possible occupancy based on the time of the day, etc. And, smart automobiles makes the vehicles more automated and sophisticated by including features like route guidance systems, automatic stopping capabilities upon detection of a pedestrian at a certain distance to avoid a collision, applications involving Internet of Things (IoT) by optimizing navigational capabilities and establishing communication with other vehicles to better analyse and navigate accordingly. This application will enable vehicles and other transit mechanisms to connect, send, receive and store data with central traffic management systems, making use of analytical tools to further optimise the traffic management mechanism.
Smart Transportation Market
Smart transportation systems have enabled the commuters to make more informed traffic and route choices based on real-time data and live traffic update facilities. Pedestrians and commuters have witnessed a significant reduction in the number of accidents. This has led to a more safe, secure and organised urban environment. Smart transportation systems are said to be a sustainable solution from an environmental perspective with the use of more energy efficient fuels like biofuels, etc. along with the widespread use of hybrid and electric vehicles. They Smart transportation system has grown due to the rising demand of integrated security and enhanced public safety involved in the transportation activities. The problems faced by the public in traditional transportation systems are insufficient parking spaces, bad quality roads, traffic jams and congestions, poor air quality, poor traffic management, poor road safety, increased number of on-road fatalities, etc. have led the government to take steps in a direction where technologies like smart transportation could be incorporated with some advancements in the existing transportation infrastructure. Besides these factors, increasing penetration of mobile devices and broadband internet technology coupled with the high integration of cloud-based systems are said to be the major driving forces of the smart transportation market.

However, lack of awareness among the public about the need for improved technology for better, safer living environment, and high amount of capital investment required for successful implementation is said to be the restraining factors for the growth of smart transportation systems.