Driverless cars on UK roads in ’15

July 31, 2014

 The Times of India (Delhi)



Govt Announces £10m Fund For Researchers Working On Project


The UK government on Wednesday gave the green light for driverless cars to roll out on public roads for testing from next year. Business secretary Vince Cable announced a £10 million fund for driverless car researchers.“The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as a pioneer in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects,” he said. “Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology.” Three cities will be selected to host driverless car trials, with each test to last between 18 and 36 months starting in January 2015.Ministers have also launched a review to look at current road regulations to establish how the UK can remain at the forefront of driverless car technology and ensure there is an appropriate regime for testing such cars in the country. Two areas of driverless technology will be covered in the review: cars with a qualified driver who can take over control of the driverless vehicle and fully autonomous vehicles where there is no driver. “Driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network -they could improve safety , reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2,“ said transport minister Claire Perry . “We are determined to ensure driverless cars can fulfil this potential.“ Science minister Greg Clark said UK was brilliantly placed to lead the world in driverless technology . “It combines our strengths in cars, satellites, big data and urban design,“ said Clark.

Currently , autonomous vehicles are only allowed on private roads, with the change in laws bringing UK in line with countries such as Japan, Singapore and Germany . In America, driverless cars have been tested on public roads for months, with Google’s driverless cars racking up more than 300,000 miles in California alone.

Scientists from Oxford University are in advanced stages of testing the first driverless car on UK roads. The vehicle, a modified BAE Wildcat military jeep, will be programmed with a three-dimensional map of routes around Oxford. The robotic car uses a series of sensors, including cameras and lasers, to calculate its exact location. It can sense the presence of other vehicles on the road and take avoiding action if necessary , something that driverless cars equipped with GPS-based technology have been unable to do.

Govt ropes in DMRC to help run trams

July 31, 2014

Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Atul Mathur  

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government has decided to rope in Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to (DMRC) build and operate trams in the walled city.

Senior PWD engineers said DMRC had the technical expertise to run a modern mass transit system in the Capital and operate it successfully.

“We have written to the Delhi Metro that we will need its help to prepare the detailed project report and execute the project. We will prepare the ground for them,” a senior PWD engineer said.

A DMRC spokesperson, however, said they were yet to receive any official communication.

Senior Delhi government officials said the decision to involve Delhi Metro in the project was taken in a meeting headed by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. Sources said the L-G is taking keen interest in the project and has put it on the fast lane.

Re-introducing trams is a part of Delhi government’s ambitious Shahjahanabad re-development project to bring back the lost glory of the Walled City. Trams were a popular mode of public transport for almost 55 years between 1908 and 1963. The bigger plan is to have a tram network of about 20-kilometers in the walled city – as it did in the first half of the 20th century – with the government planning to run it on a three-kilometre route from Esplanade Road (near Red Fort crossing) to Sadar Bazar in first phase.

“To start with, we have started putting all external cables and wires underground from Fatehpuri to Esplanade Road. Once it is done we will take the second carriageway. We will also build 15-metre wide lane which will have the space for trams and pedestrians. The other side will have two carriageways for local traffic, non-motorised vehicles and emergency vehicles,” a senior PWD engineer said.



Depots missing, so capital can’t buy more buses

July 30, 2014

Jayashree Nandi    New Delhi

DDA Delays Allotment Of Land

 Without public transport, Delhi may never be able to address its twin problems of air pollution and traffic congestion. But it has failed to meet its massive demand for buses simply because there aren’t enough depots.Millennium Park Bus Depot where 800 buses are parked will be moved in the wake of a high court order to relocate it from Yamuna riverbed. Meanwhile, Delhi Integrated MultiModal Transit System doesn’t have any parking space for 1,000 buses. Delhi Development Authority has not managed to allocate any land to them yet. After Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power, the government decided in January to move the 50-acre Millennium Park depot to secure the Yamuna riverbed.“It’s a catchment area for water which cannot be meddled with,“ chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had said. But now delay in providing adequate space for buses by DDA has irked a section of environmentalists. Their stand is contrary to other activists who have been pushing for the relocation of Millennium Depot.

Environmentalist Sunita Narain feels bus depots should be prioritized over other issues. “The Millennium Bus De pot should not be shifted. A bus depot is needed; adverse impacts on the riverbed can be mitigated,“ she said. DDA has identified three places in Rohini Sector 4, Karkardooma and Institute of Driving Training and Research in Sarai Kale Khan. But relocation has been taking very long.

DTC officials claim that developing infrastructure in these three newly-allotted areas will mean massive investment in terms of both money and time.

Meanwhile, DIMTS has not been able to procure 1,000 air conditioned and non-air conditioned cluster buses as DDA hasn’t allocated any land to them.

“They have been promising it but nothing has been handed to us even though buses should be a priority . It’s time we should start looking at multilevel parking options for buses.
Delhi should also pay attention to safe infrastructure for bus stops and traffic calming measures near them,“ an official from DIMTS said.

DDA claims it doesn’t have enough land for bus depots.
“Allocating land to DTC for relocating Millennium Depot is taking long as we have to change land use. As for more land for DIMTS, we can only look for small patches of land–not big ones,“ a senior DDA official said.

Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE’s Clean Air Programme said, “It’s a very serious problem. Delhi has to find a way to share depot space efficiently and develop infrastructure like some depots in Bangalore so that more buses can be accommodated in them. We also need to explore efficient parking structures,“ she said.


December 13, 2013




The Shell Eco-marathon is a competition for students to push self-built machines to the limits of fuel efficiency. Liquid-fuel cars and electric vehicles must travel a set distance with the least amount fuel or electric energy possible.

At the 2013 event in May, the top teams achieved nearly 3,000km from one litre of gasoline or a single kilowatt-hour of electricity, calculating their car’s efficiency from several ten-lap sessions completed at 25kph.

200 teams from 24 nations entered (Shell also hosts Eco-marathons in the US and Asia) and car design varied hugely. However, each fit into one of two categories. The Prototypes are built for pure efficiency – stripped to the minimum they’re ultra-streamlined and lightweight. The more practical UrbanConcept cars have upright seats, lights and windscreen wipers.

“Our hope is that students take away insights into new energies and how to solve real problems,” says Norman Koch, technical director of Shell Eco-marathon, who oversees technical and safety inspections. “We want them, in their future lives, to have an appreciation for the energy challenge that lies ahead of us and a backpack of ideas and knowledge about how to address it.”

Although innovative design and advances are a given at the three global events, Shell isn’t using the Eco-marathons to mine for game-changing ideas. Instead, it hopes to inspire participants to consider a future in science or engineering.

It’s part of Shell’s commitment to what it calls Smarter Mobility. With this in mind, teams choose from a variety of fuel types. “We offer seven different options to teams,” says Koch. “From gasoline and diesel, to biofuels – like ethanol and FAME – and gas-to-liquid. And there’s hydrogen for fuel cells and battery EVs.”



Plan roads to increase mobility, not vehicles

November 22, 2013

Amit Bhattacharya


Transport is at the heart of urban development and economic activity. However, the current urban transport paradigms, which favor auto-mobility and generate multiple social, economic and environmental impacts, are not sustainable. It is well-documented that in India, close to 1.5 lakh people die every year due to road traffic accidents and a majority of them are pedestrians and cyclists. About 6 lakh premature deaths take place in the country annually on account of air pollution and about 4 lakh people die every year due to physical inactivity, which is directly linked to a sedentary lifestyle. Apart from these, there are issues around climate change, energy security (dependency of importing fossil fuel) and others, all of which are directly linked to the way we plan our cities for habitation. That in turn is directly linked to the transportation system of our cities and towns.One on the easiest but counterproductive ways of solving the transportation problem is by expanding road capacity, i.e. road widening, constructing flyovers, etc. However, globally, it has been recognized that this is not the solution to traffic congestion because it encourages motorized movement in the city, leading to more congestion. In California, between 1973 and 1990, every 10% increase in road lane-kilometres led to a 9% increase in vehicle kilometres travel (VKT) within a four-year period. Usually, it’s a matter of time before newly improved roads become congested again, a phenomenon known as “the rebound effect”.

Numerous empirical studies and analyses of real world case studies have shown that new road capacity usually induces traffic in direct proportion to the amount of new road space. In fact, different studies have shown that a large portion (50-100%) of the new roadway capacity is absorbed by induced traffic after three years of operation. Therefore, solving transportation problem by expanding road capacity is like solving an obesity problem by stitching bigger clothes or solving a heart problem with repeated bypass surgeries.

The answer to these problems lies in our own policies. India’s National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) recognizes this and recommends that the focus be on moving people, not vehicles. It calls for promoted investment in public transit and non-motorized transport. One way to effectively achieve the NUTP goals is with the Avoid-Shift-Improve (ASI) framework:

Avoid or reduce growth in unnecessary travel while maintaining or enhancing economic and social opportunities for interaction through better land-use planning

Prevent the shift of trips from non-motorized transport and public transport to individual motorized modes

Improve the operations, energy and carbon efficiency of each mode

A comparison of Los Angeles and Stockholm shows sharp differences in the way people move and its impact on fatalities and health. In Stockholm, vehicle kilometers travelled are less than half while walking and cycling trips are almost seven times higher than in Los Angeles. Furthermore, Stockholm experiences one-sixth the pedestrian fatalities and one-tenth the pollution on a given workday.

Most cities in India are at an initial stage of development with a growing regional economy. They have a great opportunity to integrate their transport systems and land-use in a manner consistent with the ASI principles. If implemented, they will not need major and much more expensive changes later on, as is the case with industrialized nations. There is also a need to sensitize people and policy-makers around sustainable transportation and any development is this regard, like the recently launched Raahgiri Day movement in Gurgaon, will contribute significantly in making our cities more livable.

The writer is head of urban transport, EMBARQ India