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UK Government invests £8 million in new transport technology research

Three ground-breaking research projects aimed at improving transport services have been awarded more than £8m as part of a joint initiative by the Technology Strategy Board, Department for Transport and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The three projects, which will see innovative British companies working collaboratively with academic institutions and network operators, have been awarded the funding through the Government’s Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative. This aims to address the challenge of delivering better transport services while reducing negative environmental impacts.

Explaining the background to the decision to fund the research, Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson said:

"Congestion and pollution are problems that both affect the economy and are frustrating for road users. With the number of vehicles on the UK’s roads set to rise, along with levels of congestion, we need to find solutions – and new technology will play a key role. The Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative is an important strand of the Technology Strategy Board’s work supporting and encouraging innovation in the transport sector. We are confident that these projects will help to provide innovative solutions for this major challenge."

Minister of State for Transport Rosie Winterton said:

"We know we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. We are committed to exploring innovative ways of getting more from the existing transport network and so I am delighted to announce the successful projects of the FITS programme.

"These three projects will help us to continue to provide a transport system that balances the needs of the economy, the environment and society."

The three successful projects selected to share the £8m investment are:

FREEFLOW, which aims to benefit both transport users and operators by improving the use of transport data.

Rather than simply being told there is a queue on a particular road, drivers want to know how to avoid it while network managers want to know why it is there and how to reduce it. The project will develop tools from innovations already used outside the transport community – such as military "situation awareness" tools – to allow better data manipulation, providing this more intelligent and useful information.

This will help to improve safety, reduce congestion and protect the environment in York and London, where the project is based, and demonstrate the benefits to a wider audience.

Foot-LITE, which is designed to encourage safer, more environmentally-friendly driving styles and behaviours through the development of better driver/vehicle interface systems and services.

The project aims to develop products which give drivers information – for example via an in-vehicle display system – that will help them to drive in a way that is safer, cuts congestion and reduces emissions and other negative environmental impacts.

The User Innovation project, which will address the underpinning theme of the FITS programme by looking at users of the transport system as a source of inspiration.

The project will investigate how transport users are already using existing forms of information communication technology (ICT) to enhance transport systems – such as workers using email to organise and manage car-sharing clubs. It will then be possible to identify, develop and exploit new opportunities for existing technologies and services to address challenges facing transport systems and users.

The Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative is part of the Technology Strategy Board-managed Intelligent Transport Systems and Services Innovation Platform. This brings together Government, business and academia to better understand the UK’s key transport issues, and how innovation and new technology can be best used to provide solutions to major transport challenges, such as congestion, pollution and road safety.

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