Test Site Stockholm: Digital Tools to meet Future Transportation Challenges

For the first article of ITRL’s new blog, we have asked Martijn Bout, project manager for Test Site Stockholm, to tell us about how he pictures the future of sustainable mobility and how Test Site Stockholm is contributing to it. 

Test Site Stockholm and ITRL

I have been working as a project manager at ITRL for just over a year.

I am getting to see the great variety of things that are happening at ITRL, on the streets of Stockholm and beyond. I have been working on Test Site Stockholm. In this innovative project, ITRL works together with partners from around Sweden to bring about a sustainable mobility based on shared and automated transport. As a university institute, we aim to further our knowledge through research. As transportation is very applicable and especially automation technologies have matured significantly over the last few years. We use pilots and small test project as a new way of doing research. I believe this is a very powerful way of evaluating how a new vehicle, concept or solution might work.

Virtual reality and mixed-reality could be the future of experimentation in transport research

We might need more to understand better the effects of connectivity, automated and sharing on a wider level beyond the often small scope in pilot projects. To do so we turn to tools that were not available until very recently. Concepts like Mixed Reality, Internet of Things and Data warehouses have become mainstream and opened possibilities for testing and evaluation in the digital realm. I believe here we can really take an exponential step forward. Mixed reality for instance offers new ways of visualizing problems and solutions. Not only it is possible to take a look at issues in various new perspectives, it also makes it much easier to change and improve them without going through long processes of development or pre-testing. Let’s take an example, we might want to investigate more closely the effects of self-driving vehicles on the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. For this we might develop a physical interface for on the vehicle that could signify to other road users. However, such an experiment with a real vehicle in traffic would require a lot of development and compliances with regulations. We could circumvent such hassle by developing an experimental setup in a virtual world that would mimic the physical world. This digital or virtual world allows us to do experiments much more easily and change aspects of the interface or vehicle behavior by merely the click of a button.

How about IoT?

The same holds for IoT; before it was often difficult to get accurate information about traffic intensity, flows of people or merely the location of vehicles and people but connectivity has made this much easier. The information and data can hence be used to perfect simulation and visualization models. Moreover, combining information sources or data collected through research in a central digital environment can allow us to do much more integrated research. I believe we can harness these new found resources and tools to do more effective research against lower costs.

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