Transport sector needs to collaborate to make technology advancements

The entire transport sector needs to work together to make advancements in innovative technologies

The entire transport sector needs to work together to make advancements in innovative technologies.

Aerospace, maritime, rail and automotive companies could all benefit from collaborating and sharing rather than keeping innovative ideas to themselves as part of competitive strategies.

“Collaboration drives a sum that’s bigger than the parts,” said Andrew Everett, chief strategy officer at the Transport Systems Catapult. “It’s an opportunity to make the pie bigger for everyone.”

Speaking at the Innovate UK 2014 event on 5 November, Everett said there is a fear of sharing knowledge with others.

He admitted it was “a big barrier”, but pointed out that examples and case studies could be used to help people overcome that fear by demonstrating how everyone can benefit.

Ruth Mallors-Ray, chief operating officer at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said the challenge is around regulation and certification. For instance, the automotive industry moves a lot quicker than aerospace – it may have completed four care redesigns in the same aerospace cycle.

“But it would be great to inform them along the way,” she said. “It’s a huge hurdle if we’re different – but we’re just not that different.”

John Murray, chief executive of the Society of Maritime Industries, said it would be ideal to take each industry’s roadmap and see where their technologies cross over.

He said a report is being prepared to encourage the government to get involved in bringing not just the transport sector together, but also sectors including energy and construction.

“Pooling all these apparently diverse sectors to a technical area will bring huge benefits to the UK,” Murray added. “I hope government will pick it up and be prepared to invest in it.”

Autonomous transport

One of the suggested areas of technology advancements for transport is driverless vehicles.

Murray noted that autonomy is becoming increasingly important to the maritime sector but, like all other sectors, it is struggling to hire the talent because of the skills gap.

“It’s also a political issue,” he said. “People seem to be nervous about great container ships without human intervention – you’ve got to have a man on the bridge – but 80% of accidents are down to human error, so maybe machines could do the job better.”

Nick Fell, director and head of Tata Motors European Technical Centre, said it’s down to how companies handle data and the ability to interpret it correctly and safely.

But he pointed out that a colleague once said to him: “So if 80% or so of road accidents are human error, it will be the same in the future, but the error will be in the coding not the driving.”

Fell also added that another common technology trend will be lightweight technologies and how they will affect the inertia of vehicles, as well the reduced need for battery or engine power.

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