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Transport systems Catapult awards £600k contract for Midlands universities to intelligent mobility IMPACT project for closer collaboration between aca

Loughborough University and De Montfort University Leicester last week announced involvement in a £600,000 contract awarded by Transport System Catapult (TSC) to deliver a programme of collaboration between academia and industry in areas of intelligent mobility.

Loughborough, will lead the IMPACT Project, or Intelligent Mobility Partnership – Midlands Centre of Excellence, in partnership with De Montfort, Nottingham Trent, and Coventry universities. The three-year partnership will build collaborations between academics, business and industry to help generate new products and services.


”TSC and industry need academic expertise”

Pete Thomas, Professor of Road and Vehicle Safety at Loughborough and the academic lead of IMPART, said the transport system of the future will enable people and goods to be moved about safer, quicker, more efficiently and more sustainably than ever before. He added: “The traveller is at the heart of the Intelligent Mobility system but we need to develop and apply new technologies in a human-centred approach to mobility. It will be a large challenge simply to develop new ways to measure the changes in mobility and the benefits to travellers.”

“Driverless cars are an important area of research at Loughborough but their future success will rely on them becoming accepted by the public who will have to put their trust in the technologies.”

Mohammed Quddus, deputy leader of the IMPART team, and Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems in Civil and Building Engineering, at Loughborough said that about 85% of traffic accidents happen due to driver error.

In addition, the delays, air pollution, noise and climate change from the current transport system, are costly to the economy. Moreover, a car is idle for about 95% of the time.

He said that creating a step-change in future transport technologies to reduce these negative impacts was essential, and autonomous transport was the best way.  

Mohammed said: “In future the transport system will be different, absolutely, much more autonomous. This is the way industry is heading.”

“Autonomous vehicles will be more fuel efficient and there will be fewer accidents and less pollution. Achieving fully autonomous transport systems is the vision, the dream. The goal is achievable.”

“The aim of the project is to work with TSC and help UK industry to grow in IM. They need academic expertise - and this partnership will provide it.”


DMU to provide ‘Outreach’

Loughborough will lead the project and DMU will be the Outreach Champion in charge of delivering things like summer schools, annual conferences, industry workshops and knowledge transfer activities in the areas of autonomous transport systems, data modelling and simulation and end-to-end journeys.

The partners will bring together industry, academics and local authorities to discuss research and transport challenges and how these might be overcome.

The idea is to harness skills and technologies from a range of industries to produce an integrated transport system capable of seamless end-to-end journeys involving cars, public transport and air travel.

About 20 PhD students from the four universities conducting research into IM will spend time at the TSC in Milton Keynes.

The partners will seek to work with a range of local authorities on IM, including Leicester City and County councils, Nottingham City Council, Northamptonshire County Council and Coventry City Council.

The TSC and the universities are providing £600,000 towards IMPART, industry almost £500,000 in kind.


Access to research for SMEs

According to De Montfort University Leicester, the project has a specific emphasis on supporting small businesses by offering access to the latest research and funding as well as developing and maintaining networks across the Midlands.

DMU said it’s expertise in developing and maintaining industrial and research networks, world-class expertise in transport systems and close industry relationships were significant factors in winning the prestigious bid.

Fourteen universities across the UK were selected to be involved in the TSC’s university partnership programme working in intelligent mobility.

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