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Connected vehicles key to achieving net zero 2050, says UK self-driving experts

  • Vehicle connectivity could potentially save between £4-6bn a year, with £400m alone saved by reducing congestion through lightning-fast data transfer between vehicles
  • Connected vehicles could prove to be up to 20% more energy efficient than standard equivalents
  • UK’s self-driving hub, Zenzic, says that enhancing connectivity between vehicles, drivers and cities can help reach the Government’s target of climate neutrality by 2050
  • New video launched today highlights the UK’s unique, comprehensive and coordinated connectivity testing capabilities for connected and self-driving vehicle technologies.

London, 19 May 2020: Connected and automated vehicles could help pave the way towards a climate neutral Britain, according to Zenzic, the organisation dedicated to accelerating the self-driving revolution in the UK, as researchers call for radical changes to be made if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero deadline.

Research investigating the positive impact connected vehicles will have on our environment has highlighted how connectivity can boost a vehicle’s energy efficiency anywhere between 5% to 20%, with other aspects of connectivity such as freight platooning potentially bolstering this increase. Aside from it being environmentally beneficial, it’s estimated that vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity could potentially save between £4-6bn a year with £400m being saved from reducing traffic congestion alone as connected vehicles could travel closer to one another, freeing up space on UK roads.

Connectivity also further opens up MaaS (mobility as a service) possibilities, potentially attracting more demand for services such as self-driving robotaxis, leading to fewer privately-owned cars driving on UK motorways and helping to reduce emissions.

Connected and automated mobility (CAM) technology is already being tested across various locations within Zenzic’s ‘CAM Testbed UK’, a world-leading ecosystem of connectivity and self-driving testing facilities which is the only place worldwide which has the capability to take ideas from concept to development both physically and virtually, all within a three-hour drive. Some testbeds are already exploring the mobility benefits of 5G connectivity with support from network operators.

This latest call for the advancement of in-vehicle connectivity technology comes after recent reports suggest that the UK needs to accelerate its efforts if we are to achieve net zero status by the proposed 2050 target. With the latest Budget offering new incentives to increase electric vehicle ownership, it’s clear that e-mobility is one avenue the UK is exploring in a bid to make travel more sustainable for a more eco-friendly future. However, connectivity experts believe more radical technologies could play a key role in ensuring we stay on course. For mobility and transportation, this will mean ingraining connectivity into our infrastructure from the very start of our journey towards having truly connected vehicles on our streets, with all cars produced in the UK predicted to be connected by 2026.

Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Zenzic said:

Connectivity unlocks many core deliverables of our Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 – particularly when considering desirable mobility services and integration into towns and cities to enhance efficiency and productivity. With 2050 the milestone to meet, connected vehicles could provide a robust solution to help lower travel emissions. Vehicular connectivity can lead to less congestion on the roads, in turn leading to lower levels of pollution being emitted. But in order for us to start seeing both the environmental and economic benefits of connected and automated mobility, connectivity must be baked in from the very beginning – largely as it will enable new data services, driving efficiency, productivity, and mobility. From laying the foundations for full-scale CAM deployment with connectivity, it will allow for the flow of data generated by connected and self-driving vehicles, leading to better information and smoother journeys for the travelling public.”

Zenzic has created a video showcasing the unique connectivity testing capabilities of CAM Testbed UK. It brings to life both what is possible now and how the services offered by the testbeds are comprehensive and complementary. You can view it here.

About Zenzic

Zenzic created by government and industry to champion the connected and self-driving ecosystem and accelerate the self-driving revolution in the UK. The company drives collaboration with partners across industry, government and academia to shape a world-class CAM Testbed UK, and to deliver a comprehensive UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030. Zenzic is channelling £200 million of investment, with the goal of ensuring a safer, more inclusive and productive mobile future.

John Fox, Programme Director, Midlands Future Mobility said: 

The demands on transport systems are increasing, the importance and scale of action needed on climate change is becoming clear, and safety on our roads has plateaued in recent years. Connected mobility solutions can address all of these challenges. Despite the technology emerging right now, we won’t realise these significant benefits without the public support, and effective integration into the real-world these solutions will work within. CAM Testbed UK provides the capability and support needed to move the needle on these critical issues.

Dr Garry Staunton, Lead Technologist, Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) said: 

“Testing of connected and autonomous mobility solutions will play a critical part in proving that they can become an everyday option that is safe and reliable. It is also a hugely challenging and complex undertaking that requires access to a very wide range of complementary facilities. In this regard we are delighted to be part of the CAM Testbed UK community, whose collective, integrated offer can deliver a testing capability of great breadth and depth”.

Chris Reeves, Head of CAV Technologies, HORIBA MIRA said: 

“Connectivity is an important part of the mobility solution and a fundamental step in supporting the UK’s goal of climate neutrality. If automated, connected vehicles can work together in cooperation, immediate benefits in efficiency and air quality can be realised, as vehicles will be able to optimise their energy usage and the environmental impact of the journeys.  

“As part of CAM Testbed UK HORIBA MIRA is working to ensure the many different layers of vehicle connectivity are safe and secure, with the aim of accelerating the deployment of connectivity and self-driving technologies so they are accessible for all.”

Richard Cuerden, Director, TRL Academy said: 

“The scientific evidence linking climate change to human activity is overwhelming and in 2016 transport became the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases in the UK. London’s Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) provides a real-world connected environment for testing and developing transport solutions in a complex urban setting. We recognise that the nature of transport must change, with a focus on more active and healthy travel, alongside new mobility services empowered by digitisation and advanced technologies. SMLL is a safe environment to test all modes, interaction between different modes and the supporting connected infrastructure. SMLL provides unique insight with respect to understanding real world behavioural change – providing better alternatives for everyone, from walking, cycling, public transport, e-mobility to automation. Further connectivity of the transport system has the potential to improve safety and efficiency, the latter reducing congestion and harmful vehicle emissions.”

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