Transport-related trends include urbanisation, servitisation, energy efficiency, digitalisation and automation. Together with our partners, via the Living Lab Bus project we are developing internationally competitive, new transport technologies and services, says Principal Scientist Raine Hautala of VTT.
Helsinki Region Transport's (HSL's) Finnish-made Linkker electric buses will serve as the project's development platform, in which companies can test their solutions – userdriven services and technologies, and sensors and operators' solutions – in a genuine operating environment. Ten of the buses will be on the roads by the end of the year.
Another objective is to promote the acquisition of references for export markets and attract foreign players.
– The main issue is working together and the participation of the end user, since this is the key to developing user-centred solutions, says Hautala.
Data moves in several directions in bus traffic
– We have a huge number of buses on the roads and a large amount of the passenger experience consists of the information which each bus can provide, says Reijo Mäkinen, Project Manager with HSL.
Information moves in many directions. The sensors on the buses can provide HSL with real-time data on issues such as air quality and the weather.
–This enables a rapid maintenance response and the very fast deployment of de-icing.
Travel chains are also being made smoother by real-time information before and during journeys, which markedly eases the use of public transport.
Mäkinen is in almost daily contact with VTT employees on LLB and other projects.
Journey chain trials
VTT is coordinating the VAMOS! project, whose aim is to connect consumers to service providers while developing and integrating mobility, travel and event services. PayiQ, which develops mobile traffic solutions and mobile payment systems, is one of the companies involved.
– People always have a reason to travel. That is why there is a need to connect Mobility as a Service and mobility, travel and event businesses into an overall transport chain, says Tuomo Parjanen, CEO of PayiQ.
PayiQ has been testing solutions enabling single payments for unbroken journeys to football matches, hotels, trade fairs or theatres, for example.
– The feedback has been good. I think that solutions like this will become more common. In their role as operators, the cities too are interested. They see more revenue opportunities and ways of serving their own customers.
– Through the VAMOS! project, PayiQ has intensified cooperation with old partners and found a couple of new openings, such as the event organisers Wallasvaara Engage and Evenman.
– Finland has strong expertise in ICT, artificial intelligence and sensors, mobile payment applications, and the development of automated driving systems. We can also build vehicles – Transtech's trams are top quality and Linkker's electric bus technology is state of the art, says Raine Hautala.
Finland's strengths also include Arctic expertise (due to our conditions) in areas such as winter maintenance – Vaisala's world-class weather and driving condition observation solutions, for example.
– Finland is also home to fruitful cooperation between companies, public authorities and research organisations. An example of this is an initiative supported by VTT, based on a proposal by ITS Finland for a Transport Growth Programme now being prepared under the leadership of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
Although Finnish legislation is often criticised for being inflexible with respect to experimentation, Hautala does not agree.
– For example, Finland has some of the most permissive legislation with regard to the piloting of automated driving systems. In addition, better use could be made of opportunities provided by public procurement legislation in making innovative purchases. A good example of this is the purchase of HSL's electric buses.
Bringing credibility to projects
VTT plays a key role in the creation and coordination of major joint projects.
– We are very excited about these projects, exclaims Raine Hautala.
– They will increase our knowledge of companies and innovations, and we can help them to find each other.
VTT is a neutral partner, which assesses the functionality of technology and services, and the socio-economic impact of solutions. It can help companies in the assessment of risk and revenue sharing, as well as product development.
– We have a very extensive international network. This provides Finnish actors with information and enables the marketing of Finnish expertise on international forums, says Hautala.
The transport of the future will be built on intelligence and cooperation
By 2030, Finland must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels. Emissions can be reduced by promoting the introduction of e-traffic and sustainably produced biofuels, and reducing energy consumption through car sharing and smart mobility services.
These goals will not be achieved by favouring one energy form, or through any one new technology. Every available means will be needed. VTT has met various challenges alongside its partners: for example, the TransSmart programme, completed in spring 2017, for smart, low-carbon transport.
The challenges and opportunities involved in smart transport are often so great that solutions should not be developed alone. Cooperation also reaches further, as networking spreads.
– The companies involved agree that cooperation will be needed to achieve success. Everyone will attain added value from everybody else's contributions to the joint projects, comments Raine Hautala.
TransSmart has led to follow-ups in the form of joint projects such as the ePELI project concerning eTransport, the BioSata project focused on biofuel substances, and the Living Lab Bus project for developing user-centred travel services.