Welcome to the ITS World Congress 2019

Urban mobility will change radically in the coming years as cities continue to grow. To prevent being flooded by cars, traffic will have to be controlled centrally to prevent gridlock. At this years ITS World Congress in Singapore, Siemens Mobility presents a series of innovative concepts that, in addition to forward-looking measures, offer concrete solutions for today’s traffic management.

Depending on existing mobility concepts, increases in urban traffic volumes lead to a range of different challenges. These are particularly critical in the Asian region, where megacities often have developed infrastructures over many years without traffic lanes or centralized traffic management. In some major cities, the situation is so chaotic that it is no longer compatible with the existing infrastructure. In view of this, even the construction of entirely new cities is under discussion.

The alternative to such drastic measures is proactive, centralized, and automated traffic control by a superordinate management system. Because, when preconditions are in place, environmental protection, traffic flow, and quality of life are realizable in the future. These include: 

  1. Connected road users and smart sensors that connect the road with the IoT.
  2. A system that gathers and analyses all this information, develops strategies on the basis of the data derived, and thus regulates the traffic.
  3. Virtual road signs, traffic lights and apps, that guide road users on the basis of momentary demand.

However, all this can only function effectively when all road users stick to the rules. If traffic lights are perceived only for their entertainment value, even the best traffic guidance system is useless. Singapore currently assumes the pioneering role in all points. As long as 20 years ago, the island state began laying the foundations for a networked infrastructure, and has systematically been pursuing its development ever since. On average, one new subway station will open every two months until 2030. What’s more, the city is served by 850 bus lines with almost 6,000 buses. In order to reduce urban traffic, private local transport must be scaled down and replaced by forms of public transportation that are as attractive as possible. Nowhere has this principle been so consistently implemented as in Singapore. But how, exactly, does it work?

The particularities of Singapore

When the subject turns to urban mobility, Singapore is often portrayed as a shining example. In reality, this is both true and false. Although Singapore really is a shining example in traffic management, the city-state has a unique constellation that cannot be reproduced so easily.

Fred Kalt, Managing Director ITS Asia Pacific at Siemens Mobility in Singapore likes to compare the organisation of the city with that of a highly structured business. Where the strategies are just as clearly defined. For instance, the Prime Minister recently presented a strategy for the next 100 years including measures for combating climate change. Derived from this are very precise definitions of which areas of society will take on which tasks. A stable political constellation in combination with sufficient financial resources enables the actual realization of these plans. In addition, Asian culture attributes the utmost importance to its community. Whereby measures that benefit society outweigh benefits to the individual. It starts with forgoing ownership of private cars. The reasons for this are found quite simply in the unfavorable conditions involved in buying and owning a car. The consequence: In a city with a population of 5.5 million, fewer than 10% of its citizens own a car. For the citizens, however, this is not a loss as the government has managed to provide solutions that are so attractive that owning a private car has become economically pointless. Public transport has already been mentioned, and this is supplemented by three ride-hailing companies and several taxi operators, all of which have extremely reasonable fares and are available within an average of 5 minutes. Apart from this, vehicle registrations are only valid for ten years. If the government decided to permit only electric cars from today, the combustion engine would disappear automatically within ten years.

 

In light of this, Singapore is the perfect setting for the first digitalization hub for road solutions from Siemens Mobility. A competence center that expedites the implementation of existing technologies and the development of new solutions.  These include tunnel management and expressway systems as well as urban traffic management solutions. A research collaboration agreement with the research institute in Singapore serves the purpose of jointly shaping the next generation of traffic management solutions. Siemens Mobility will be presenting several of these solutions at the ITS World Congress.

 

Although Singapore is quite literally an insular solution, the city demonstrates what can be achieved when all areas relevant to mobility act together in an ideal way. This certainly enables us to gather insights for the future of mobility in other cities.

Smart City – the Four Milestones

According to Fred Kalt, four steps lead to the connected traffic-city: Firstly, the infrastructure must be made available in the form of roads and IT solutions. What matters is the development of the technology required and optimization of processes that, for example, enable autonomous transportation. Parallel to this is the importance of gaining public acceptance for the measures. Although this works well in Singapore, some things are still far from perfect. For instance, road traffic was somewhat neglected whilst there was an intense focus on public transport. This is about to change. By 2030, all buses in Singapore will be both autonomous and demand responsive. i.e. they will be driverless and will not halt at predetermined stops. Instead, they will respond to the individual needs of users who book their bus journeys with an app. 2023 should see the first trials of the concept in three districts of the city. Just what this looks like, and what technologies are required, can be seen on the “CETRAN” test circuit in the course of the fair. Siemens Mobility will also be presenting a series of lectures, special interest sessions, and in-depth press conferences. 

Just because a car is autonomous, it doesn’t mean it can’t cause a traffic jam
Fred Kalt

From a technical point of view, autonomous vehicles are a significant achievement. But they can only reduce the burden of urban traffic when they become a viable alternative to private transport. However, this requires an extensive IT and communications infrastructure, such as a stable 5G network that enables real-time Vehicle 2X communication. Once the technical setup is in place, the next step is to gain public acceptance. An aspect that needs a lot of persuasive arguments in a country like Germany, with its intense affinity for cars.

 

Fred Kalt says: “In Germany, I had and needed a car. Here in Singapore, I haven’t had one for two years. And life’s not so bad without one. Overall, it’s considerably cheaper and easier, and there’s much less stress. And I don’t have to search for parking spaces or pay for car insurance.” But the connection between Fred Kalt and the traffic in Singapore runs much deeper: Out of thankfulness that his wife reached the hospital in good time, and everything went well when their child was born, he named his son after the city’s coat of arms – Merlion – Lion from the Sea.

 

In contrast, the vast acres of Germany will continue to see traffic signals, vintage cars, jams, and mixed traffic. Here, the challenge lies in connecting all the different standards and systems that apply to different road users to achieve an effective overall system.

 

Singapore is already one step further. Everyday essentials, such as the ubiquitous crates of mineral water, are ordered online and delivered to the door in the matter of hours without any extra charge. This mindset also facilitates the transition to new mobility solutions. Where Siemens Mobility supports and promotes this, can be seen from October 21 to 25 at the ITS World Congress.

 

Some of the focal points include:

  • Mobility Operating System
  • Self-driving vehicles/Infrastructure for autonomous driving via Vehicle 2X communication
  • Tunnel management
  • AI in traffic scenarios
  • Intermodal mobility – the combination of public and private transportation (MaaS)
  • Traffic simulation (Aimsun/TASS)

Visit us on Stand 343 and discover innovative solutions for urban mobility that do not stand in conflict with a livable environment. We would very much like to welcome you to our lectures on topics such as the utilization of artificial intelligence in traffic management and Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication. On our technical tours, you can also discover more about our research into self-driving vehicles (SDV).

 

Just drop by – we’ll be glad to see you.

2019-10-18

Picture credits: Siemens Mobility GmbH

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