The Global View

Europe studies tech for smarter driving, lower-carbon transport

Can information and communication technologies (ICT) really have much of an impact on the carbon footprint of our cars, trucks and buses? Participants in a European-funded research programme believe the answer is “yes.”

The three-year eCoMove project aims to develop and test a variety of “green” transport technologies and applications that could help reduce travel-related carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20 per cent. That would be no small feat, considering road transport makes up the bulk — 70 per cent — of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, all forms of transport account for about 20 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

eCoMove project researchers envision using ICT applications and services to enable “perfect eco-drivers” travelling on a “perfectly eco-managed” road network. To achieve that goal, they’ll be testing state-of-the-art vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technologies.

The idea is to help find a combination of cooperative applications that could help transport come as close as possible to the theoretical least possible fuel consumption … without affecting the quality of how people and goods get around.

“In reality today, vehicles, drivers and traffic management systems fall short of this ideal, and much fuel is wasted leading to unnecessary CO2 emission,” said Jean Charles Pandazis, coordinator of the eCoMove project.

Researchers will focus on what they believe are the three main causes of transport-related energy waste: driver behaviour, route choice and road network management. They hope to settle on a blend of technologies that can help motorists drive more efficiently, choose the “greenest” possible routes and have the best odds of getting from point A to point B with a minimum of red lights.

The system could also include incentives or other advantages, like cash eco-bonuses or priority in traffic.