What technological innovations are changing transport?
Transport technology refers to all solutions that improve the way we move on earth and in space, and which contribute to innovation in the transfer of goods and objects. Here is an in-depth study
Transportation technology has changed and continues to change the world, society and our daily lives. Transport technology refers to all the innovations and new solutions in the field of transport that allow us to move around the city, around the world (between one country and another) and even in space. Transport technology also encompasses all innovations in the field of transporting goods and objects: from large-scale freight transport to home deliveries.
Why are we talking about transport technology?
Three main reasons explain innovations in the field of transport. First, efficiency: we are looking for new ways of getting around that use less time and fewer resources. Secondly, safety: people are looking for technologies that allow people to travel with less risk, both for those who make the trip, that is to say those who drive or use certain vehicles, and for those who may find themselves on the same route, for example a pedestrian crossing a busy road.
Third, convenience: in addition to seeking efficient and safe transportation, convenience also attracts attention; it can be linked both to the type of vehicle used for transport and to the accessibility of this vehicle. These three elements are interconnected and the technology in this field is changing rapidly, creating new means of transport and improving existing ones. “In just a few years, huge differences are created and the market is very competitive from an engineering point of view, which is why it is important to research and stay up to date with new technologies”,tells us Salvatore Pirozzi, Chief Technology Officer of Kineton – an Italian scaleup founded in 2017 that does research in engineering and advanced technology, and deals with Transportation Technology in particular for the automotive sector.
The Hyperloop is an advanced example of transportation technology. The prototype, launched by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk between 2012 and 2013, is essentially a very high-speed train. The Hyperloop is based on long low-pressure tubes inside which capsules transport passengers and goods. The system uses magnetic levitation to move, and can travel very long distances without any impact. Since Hyperloop technology is open source (accessible to all interested parties in the industry), besides Elon Musk’s Space X, several start-ups and companies have started working on Hyperloop prototypes. Virgin Hyperloop, for example, conducted its first test with passengers on November 3 this year in Nevada, in the desert near Las Vegas. The capsules (or pods) of Virgin Hyperloop reach more than 1000Km/h, three times faster than a high-speed train; this new method of transportation will also have a lower environmental impact than other passenger transportation systems in use today.
The environmental factor
Reducing pollution is now an essential requirement of transportation technology. Great attention is paid to the environment and the use of zero emission vehicles. “An element that has revolutionized the automotive sector in the last ten years is the issue of emissions”, confirms Mr. Pirozzi, “research has increasingly focused on electric motors and all technologies aimed at reducing ‘environmental impact “. This green trend has changed not only the automotive industry, but also consumer choices: whereas in the past people chose a car based on its engine performance, today people prefer less polluting cars. , which can also be driven in urban centers,
A new way to move
Transport technology’s search for ever more efficient means of getting around (and transporting goods) reduces travel time and contributes to the economic/productive improvement of the individual, who saves time by traveling and can invest in other activities; it also contributes to that of society, because easier and faster travel makes the world closer and more accessible. But that’s not all: “If in the past the car was just a means of getting from point A to point B, today we are also interested in entertainment, in what to do during travel,” Pirozzi tells us, “cars are increasingly equipped with entertainment devices and digital services, they communicate with smartphone applications and allow us to use them, all in complete safety of course”. We have a real personal computer in the car.
Transport technology is also making transport systems increasingly safe. For example, sensors installed in cars allow them to brake autonomously if they detect people in their path, reducing the risk of accidents due to driver distraction. “The most used technologies are varied,” explains Pirozzi, “ranging from parking sensors to radars and cameras that allow, for example, to maintain a constant speed or distance from the vehicle in front.” Furthermore, with regard to safety, Mr. Pirozzi underlined that “in the automotive sector, we are now also interested in cybersecurity” (i.e. the possibility of an external attack that blocks or disrupts the car’s system due to its connections). Today, in a fully connected world, cars are not excluded: the possibility of having a vehicle that communicates with other vehicles and infrastructures allows a faster and more efficient exchange of information between users. »
Influence on the industry
Transport technology not only influences the car as an end product, but also the vehicle production and validation chain. Mr. Pirozzi explains that “thanks to new technologies, it is possible to carry out preliminary tests through digital simulations and to use only the test cars during the final tests. This helps to speed up production, save on test car costs and perform special maneuvers with greater safety.”
Transport technology also influences “conventional” transport systems; thanks to technology, we can now travel saving time and resources. For example, we can check in online before going to the airport: this simplifies and speeds up the whole process of boarding the plane and reduces passenger traffic at check-in. And thanks to digital technology, we have advanced transport management systems that allow more efficient monitoring of situations on the road and provide reliable information in real time; this ranges from road traffic information to tracking goods and objects. This also applies to cars. Mr. Pirozzi confirms that “elements that were extraordinary a few years ago, like navigation, are now standard in cars”. Today’s cars are more comfortable, but they are also safer.
Transport technology in the automotive sector: electric vehicles and autonomous driving
When we talk about transport technology in the automotive sector, we first think of electric cars: vehicles running on electricity, without any emissions, whose battery can be recharged like any other device. Electric cars are much quieter and also help reduce noise pollution in cities. If it was once difficult to recharge an electric car far from home, several urban centers are now multiplying the number of charging stations for these cars.
In addition, the cost of a “full electric” is lower than that of gasoline or diesel. One of the criticisms leveled at electric cars is their limited range per charge. However, today there are models that can travel several kilometers on a single charge, ranging from 150-200 km for the cheapest models to models with a greater range of more than 500 km. Examples include Tesla’s Model S with a range of 652 km and the Model X with 561 km. Another example is the Nissan Leaf, Nissan’s electric car; it is the best-selling electric car in Italy and Europe, it has a range of up to 270 km and is ideal for city driving (the Leaf E+ model has a range of up to 385 km).
As with electric cars, there is also talk of fully self-driving vehicles. Several companies around the world (such as Google, Tesla and Uber) are studying how to create fully autonomous cars, developing new technologies and vehicle artificial intelligence to allow the car to understand the outside world and react to all possible scenarios on the road. The biggest concern in this area is the vehicle’s ability to predict and calculate all the complex situations that may arise. “This possibility is still a long way off and human intervention behind the wheel remains indispensable”, adds Mr. Pirozzi, “Research focuses strongly on the development of software and its interaction with the outside world.