Looking to the Future
How can design and technology make a difference?
Software technologies, such as STAR CCM+ (CFD) and Riccardo wave, are used to simulate component functions to help understand where the concerns may lie. The design of how the engine components work plays a key role into how clean the emissions could be. How can we redesign our transport system in the future?
- Driverless car system
- Pedestrianized cities
- Creating self-sufficient communities (All essentials within a 15 minute walking radius)
These ideas are currently unrealistic but with time these ideas could become our reality. Each idea is currently being tested around the world in small trials to start developing and adjusting the concepts. In Paris, they are planning on introducing self-sufficient communities , a fully pedestrianized city is being introduced in Saudi Arabia  and lastly the driverless car systems are being trialled in the UK .
After a recent talk with 2014 PDE graduate Sarah Morgan, she briefly described her final year project of the concept of driverless cars at airports. This sparked an interest for me in terms of how we could see the future of transport. With further research, I have been able to find physical projects, investigating this potential future concept.
In 2018, a trial project for autonomous travel around the Greenwich Peninsular was developed and funded by the government and relevant industry, called GATEway . The GATEway driverless pods used a combination of sensors, cameras, lasers and software to safely navigate their way between leisure sites and residential locations.
The main goal of the project was to understand how driverless pods could fit into our urban environment. From the research, it seems the test was successful as it was one of three projects awarded by Innovate UK under its ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’ competition. This is great progress to redefining our way of transport however, the costs for developing such a project are massive and to transfer this onto a larger scale seems impossible.
I think if we were to introduce such vehicles, it would first be on a small scale for example at an airport for shuttle transportation. The complexity of determining all the possible situations the pods may face are endless and at this point we are not able to produce such a model. Nonetheless, in 20+ years’ time I think we will have figured out a solution with the use of advanced technology and incredible design skills, and that this current theoretical idea could become our reality.
Cost plays a large factor in how we continue on this renewable carbon free journey. We have spent the past 100 years developing our technology specifically for petrol and diesel cars and now we begin to transfer to EV’s. The answer will take time but with each small step we take we get closer to our final goal. After analysing all the possible routes, I have summarised my thoughts of how we could approach the next 10-20 years.
- The majority of the UK own petrol and diesel cars, so to begin transitioning to EV’s, we need to install the necessary infrastructure before we can push the change. It is dramatic, essential and should be done fast otherwise this issue is not being treated seriously. It is not fair for people to be forced into a new way of driving when the infrastructure is so poor, it simply will not work. Tesla currently have a vast number of chargers positioned across the country however, only Tesla models can charge from those ports and sadly not everyone is able to afford such a luxury item. The current oil fuelling stations are universal and can be used by any car model however, the EV movement is deemed a competition against car manufacturers as they want to develop their own technology hence, the electric charging points are not universal and pose problems for EV owners. As we transition to EV’s all manufacturers should be working together to develop the technology otherwise, how can we persuade the public to use EV’s when the infrastructure is so divided.
- How will electric cars be accepted? Firstly, reducing their initial cost so they are in an affordable price bracket, maintain the popular look of petrol cars (one change at a time), extensive amount of fuelling infrastructure to remove the risk of range anxiety and lastly the technology improvements that can improve range and charging times. It will not be an easy transition when there are approximately 50 million adults in the UK, however with excellent development in technology and well-liked design, it will encourage people to transition to a cleaner world.
- I believe EV’s are not the final answer to solving the carbon emissions crisis because the lithium-ion batteries are dangerous, a finite resource and pollute during manufacturing and recycling stages. Nonetheless, I believe it is an eco-friendlier option than remaining with oil and gas. EV’s are our best chance of improving emissions currently however, a more eco-friendly option should be devloped over the next 10 years in preparation to phase out the dependance of private vehicles.
- Originally, before my research had begun, I thought that hydrogen fuel would be more reliable and efficient than an electric battery however, after further research it came to light that hydrogen is not very efficient due to the transportation stages of the fuel, as shown in the image below .
- Although renewable energy is reducing the amount of carbon emissions, it is not completely eradicating them. To manufacture a wind turbine involves trucks bringing steel and raw materials, large cranes erecting the structures and all these machines require diesel fuel. Huge amounts of steel and concrete are required for the production of a wind turbine. 100% renewable energy does not mean zero carbon.
- From 2030 the production of petrol and diesel cars will be banned but over the next 9 years how are the current cars being adapted to meet emission standards. I would encourage all cars to be fitted with a turbocharger; this will reduce the weight of the car due to a smaller engine; it will improve fuel economy while maintaining power requirements and it will ensure a better overall performance. The use of software’s such as Star CCM+ can be used to help develop existing components, for example the ETV as mentioned in blog post 3, to maximise their efficiency and performance.
- A small selection of industries may be allowed to continue using oil and gas for a temporary duration. As addressed earlier, I believe motor sport should be included in this selection due to its impact on the vast majority of the public. It motivates and encourages people to get involved and become a part of the motor sport community.