Innovation Magazine July-August 2019
“There’s a clear need for rural ITS applications throughout BC and Canada,” PBX’s Edgar agrees. “A common challenge in rural applications is getting power and communications infrastructure where you need it. That can affect where and how you deploy ITS or require you to leverage solutions like alternative power sources such as solar power and fuel cell systems.” Edgar and his team had to resolve those issues when deploying their variable speed limit and wildlife detection systems along southern BC highways. “One of the things we’re looking at is how we can use alternative technologies like long-range wireless, a very low-power but long-range and inexpensive technology, and how it can be used to provide connected-vehicle coverage on remote roads where cell or other coverage isn’t available,” Michelson said. OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD The pace of ITS development and deployment is increasing. New investments, applications, components, and systems are coming online continually. “The Government of Canada has invested significantly in improving transportation safety and the movement of freight and goods over the past several years, with great success,” Michelson said. “We now have a real opportunity to take the next step and play leading roles in developing many key aspects of connected-vehicle technology, and to influence what’s going on around the world.” The fully realized vision for ITS is still years away, but according to City of Surrey Transportation Manager Jaime Boan, P.Eng., “we see a future where we eliminate all fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways and a transportation network where people can freely and efficiently move around the city. We want safety. We want free mobility. We want choice in terms of how people can move around.… We see incredible opportunity to transform how transportation happens.” British Columbia’s engineers are positioned to take advantage of those opportunities. With their growing expertise and experience with wireless technologies, remote applications, and complex transportation facilities, they can help shape intelligent, integrated
EVALUATING EMERGING ITS TECHNOLOGIES AND SCALING UP Like Surrey, the new AURORA UBC pilots and tests ITS technologies. Funded by Transport Canada, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and others, the facility features a network operations centre, two test vehicles, and five intersections equipped with roadside units, cameras, software-defined radios, and smart traffic-signal controllers—all connected to the campus network by wireless links. While other ITS test beds around the world focus on evaluating existing technologies, AURORA is designed to evaluate emerging technologies—both current and next- generation connected-vehicle technologies that enable infrastructure and vehicles to communicate quickly, directly, and seamlessly with each other. It will also be used to develop best practices for using advanced ITS to enhance information sharing between vehicles, infrastructure and pedestrians. “AURORA will allow us to determine the limits of what one can do with connected-vehicle technology, and it will allow us to play an important role in the ongoing task of improving and refining future versions of the technology,” said David Michelson, P.Eng., UBC Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of AURORA. “We’re looking at the possibilities that emerge when one installs standardized wireless technology in vehicles. How can it be used to improve road safety? How could it be used to reduce traffic congestion? How can it be used to simplify commercial-vehicle transactions? It’s a big leap beyond installing passive infrastructure along the roadside or placing short-range RFID readers at border crossings or entrances to bridges or toll roads.” Researchers will use AURORA to test network protocols and alternatives to existing wireless connected-vehicle network standards. They will investigate how standards and systems can be scaled for deployment across Canada and North America. “The scale of deployment that will take place when connected-vehicle technology is rolled out and becomes operational will be staggering,” Michelson said. “The challenge is to make it inexpensive enough to support tens of millions of vehicles and all the different intersections and places where you’d want to put smart roadside infrastructure—and to make it work reliably.” Scalability also must address network access and rural applications.
transportation systems to improve road safety, increase transportation efficiency, and reduce environmental impacts.
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