Moving towards smarter sustainable mobility

Electrical vehicles are gaining favour in Canada, and particularly in Quebec. Based on the latest data published by the Association des véhicules électriques du Québec (Quebec Association of Electrical Vehicles – AVEQ), there were nearly 43,000 electrical or hybrid vehicles in the province, as of March 31, 2019, which represents close to 50% of the entire fleet in Canada. Still according to AVEQ, the introduction by the federal government of new financial incentives on May 1, 2019, accelerated this trend and caused sales for this type of vehicle to dramatically increase by at least 50% across the country.

Sustainable mobility is booming, and Quebec is one of the regions at the epicentre of this growth. This is what encouraged the renowned EV/VÉ Conference and Tradeshow to hold its 2019 edition in Quebec City. Yet, sustainable mobility goes hand in hand with the development of smart cities, infrastructure assets and systems.

Telecommunication at the heart of intelligence

Whether in engineering or a more general context, intelligence refers to the action of collecting and analyzing a set of data in order to make an educated decision. Take the example of autonomous electrical vehicles. As their number is increasing, they could revolutionize the way we travel by giving a certain level of decisional power to the machine instead of leaving it all in the hands of the driver. When approaching an intersection, an autonomous vehicle should be able to determine whether it needs to stop, slow down or pursue its course. To make this decision, it must consider a series of data, such as the configuration of the intersection, the number of pedestrians crossing the road, the presence of a traffic light and its colour as it approaches the intersection and, if it is green, the time left before it turns red. Equipment installed along roads or integrated into traffic lights must communicate with the vehicle’s smart system. Therefore, for a city or infrastructure asset to become smart, it must first rely on a good telecommunication network.

From the implementation of this network to the integration and programming of analyzing systems, through to the creation of equipment, CIMA+ is working on several transportation electrification and smart infrastructure development projects for cities. When combined, these two fields of expertise contribute to making transportation cleaner and users’ lives easier.

Bus electrification in Laval

The Société de transport de Laval (Laval Public Transit Company – STL) wishes for its bus network to be fully electrical in the near future. Besides purchasing new vehicles, this project involves the implementation of charging stations in garages and of several smart systems to increase the efficiency of the bus transportation system, as explained by Régis Balzard, Project Leader, Intelligent Transportation Systems at CIMA+: “We have supported the STL in the development of a network of smart systems that integrate several types of data on the garage itself, such as the volume of traffic at any given time, as well as on buses, such as their battery charge level when entering the garage, the distances they will need to cover the next time they are in service, the amount of power required, and the time of departure. Each bus will then be assigned a specific electrical charging station, programmed based on the collected data.”

Until all vehicles on our roads are electrical, there are other ways to reduce pollution generated by traditional vehicles, namely by improving traffic flow.

Improving traffic flow in large cities

Dynamic parking guidance systems found in several large cities provide drivers with real-time information on nearby parking facilities, directions to get there and the number of parking spaces available. Other systems within the parking facility provide detailed real-time information as to the number of spaces available on each level and their exact location. This contributes to saving time for drivers, easing traffic congestion and reducing pollution.

CIMA+ is working with many municipalities, including the City of Montreal, to modernize traffic lights and make roads safer and traffic more fluid. With the addition of new smart systems, traffic lights will be able to synchronize, adapt to traffic volumes in real time, and give priority right-of-way to buses and emergency vehicles.

Other possible applications

It is undeniable that smart systems are a prerequisite to ensuring more efficient and eco-friendly mobility, but they can also be used in other areas of engineering, such as road lighting systems that can adapt to the ambient luminosity. The installation of smart systems capable of determining the degree of wear, detecting failures and programming corrective actions could make the maintenance of roads, bridges and other infrastructure assets more efficient, and facilitate technicians’ work.

Whatever purpose these smart systems serve, they help increase the effectiveness and safety of infrastructure assets in our cities. There is no doubt that as they spread within our environment and industries, they will challenge the way we interact with numerous objects in our daily lives, but we will benefit from more self-contained, cost-efficient and eco-friendly solutions.

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