Availability of information and the possibility of accessing it almost anywhere via mobile data networks has already made its mark on our everyday mobility, and it will increasingly define and transform it.
The simplest example is certainly a digital display panel which gi- ves dynamic updates of when the next bus or tram is expected to arrive. This helps us reach decisions as to whether we should wait or choose another means of reaching our destination. Furthermore, navigation systems in cars have over the past decade meant that the upcoming generation just don’t know where to start with a paper map.
The popularity of smartphones has ensured that navigation is now available any time and anywhere. So apps can tell us where, in an unfamiliar city, we can find an available hire bike, how to reach the nearest bus stop and that the next bus going in the direction we need leaves from there in 3 minutes.
Cars today, with their satellite navigation system and good digital maps, actually know where they are, and know very well what is happening around them thanks to countless inbuilt sensors (radar, laser, video image processing, rain sensors); they can make parking easier or recognise potential hazardous situations, and even apply braking assistance.
It would be very easy with new legislation to only certify new cars if the car itself could ensure that even with an inattentive driver the 30 km/h speed limit in residential areas could not be exceeded, similar to how modern goods vehicles simply cannot now be driven faster than their legally required speed limiter permits.
Car manufacturers have been working for some time on car to car communications to help prevent crashes: so cars send information continuously to following vehicles, for example, so that this could perhaps provide warnings about stationary traffic or a broken down vehicle just past a curve in the road.
If pedestrians and cyclists could also communicate automatically with cars via their smartphones it’s conceivable that digital pavements and digital cycleways might be created. When in residential areas, the more vulnerable road user would be automatically granted priority. A car would brake automatically when it sensed that the path of a pedestrian or cyclist was about to cross its own, and in addition pedestrians could be warned via an alarm and vibration from their smartphones to watch out for a potential collision. So with a suitable smartphone app the whole world could suddenly be equipped with digital bike lanes and walkways.
Copy: Hannes Neupert, prepared within the EU GoPedelec! project: GoPedelec! Handbook (German version)
>> Go Pedelec! Handbook in Czech, Dutch, English, Hungarian, and Italian
Translation: Peter Eland (www.electricbikemag.co.uk)
Online release: Angela Budde
15 December 2012