After overseeing the development our new video series, Zenzic’s Tristan Bacon reflects on connectivity in a broad sense and on what it will bring to the connected and self-driving future. 

In these challenging times of a global pandemic, with much separation and restriction, the role technology has played in allowing us to stay connected is evident.

High network speeds, low-latency connections and device accessibility we have today would have been technological fantasies to generations past. The idea of jumping from video call to video call with family, friends and colleagues, whilst streaming endless videos, music and podcasts with hundreds of others in the same neighbourhood simultaneously would’ve been a complete anathema rewinding merely 15 years.

Staying connected

Even in this time of isolation and solitude, we’re still connected, very connected, and in many senses that’s a great thing. Many organisations can continue to operate in some capacity or another, while family, friends and communities are able to stay in touch and huge swathes of commerce continues online, allowing people to receive deliveries and continue with their lives in many respects. In addition, as technology has become more affordable, intuitive and easy to set up, those who previously weren’t connected, perhaps on lower incomes, older or with accessibility requirements, can now benefit.

All these examples bring into focus how the effective operation of any organisation, group or system, relies heavily on the connectivity and communication that underlies it.

It’s no different with the future of connected and automated mobility (CAM).

Delivering on safety, inclusivity and efficiency

Connectivity is a foundational element for the realisation of CAM benefits such as increased safety, inclusivity and efficiency for our transport networks. Already today we have a vast array of connectivity applications and systems for vehicles that are transforming the way we travel. It’s only set to mature and grow.

However, continuing to realise such benefits is not inevitable and this is where diverse and thorough testing comes in.

Connectivity will benefit us in a variety of different ways, which means the testing approaches need to be similarly broad. Comprising a comprehensive and integrated set of testing facilities, CAM Testbed UK is equipped to explore and implement these approaches safely and robustly. With extensive variation in road environments and world-leading connectivity and communications technologies, the sites are collectively, perfectly poised to develop and test the countless connectivity applications that will transform the future of mobility.

The UK’s diverse connectivity testing capabilities

Over the last few months, I have had the privilege of coordinating a video project, CAM Testbed UK: Connected, that showcases these facilities. We’ve taken a regular electric van around the sites, performing a variety of tests to demonstrate the individual and collective connectivity capabilities of CAM Testbed UK.

For me, the distinctive feature of the series is the diversity of capabilities the UK has to offer. The tests provide a variety of insights across a spectrum of road environments from controlled through to the real roads, as well as those related to data exchange, analysis and simulation. This variety is important as it indicates the effectiveness of CAM Testbed UK to tackle a multitude of different connectivity questions and challenges:

  • How can data be exchanged and analysed to provide insight for our future transport systems?
  • How can interaction between physical and simulated environments improve CAM operation?
  • How can real-time rapid data transfer and reporting optimise CAM performance?
  • How can we share road context information direct to vehicles safely and robustly?
  • How does connectivity support trials and benefit safety case development for future CAM?

Realising substantial deployment of CAM on our roads will depend on our ability to tackle these questions, as well as many others. Comprehensive and integrated testing facilities, such as those in CAM Testbed UK, are fundamental to this.

What have I learnt from making CAM Testbed UK: Connected?

The UK can be confident in realising widespread connectivity benefits for our transport networks because our test facilities are truly comprehensive and integrated. We are in a strong position to lead the way internationally and set the standard for excellence in developing and deploying CAM at scale.