FREEFLOW, Foot-LITE and User Innovation. These three items make up the UK's Department for Transport short list of ways to "improve transport services." To varying degrees, each of the three tries to green up transporting people while making the transport easier and more comfortable.
The three programs are part of a huge new £8m investment by the DfT into a joint initiative by the Technology Strategy Board, Department for Transport and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Here's a brief description of the programs:

  • FREEFLOW will make traffic information better and easier to access. Finding a way around a traffic jam is just as important as knowing that there's one around the next bend, just after the off ramp.
  • Foot-LITE is kind of like a broadening of the eco light you find in some cars. If you talk to a Prius driver, you've probably heard about how that realtime MPG screen can affect driving styles. Foot-LITE hopes to develop more and better indicators for drivers to tell them not only how to drive greener but also, like FREEFLOW, avoid congestion.
  • The User Innovation project looks as communication between people when they aren't in their cars - better ways to organize carsharing clubs, for example - as well as tapping citizens' ideas for other ideas on how to make getting around an easier proposition.

There are more details available after the jump.

Press Release:

Government invests £8 million in new transport technology research

London, 10 March/GNN/ --

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (048) issued by The Government News Network on 10 March 2008 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.

Notes to Editors

1. The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government. Its mission is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

2. Innovation Platforms are a new way of working for government and business. Each focusing on a specific area of opportunity, innovation platforms are designed to address major policy and societal challenges. They bring together government stakeholders and funders and engage with business and the research community to identify appropriate action. In this way, policy, regulation and government procurement are aligned in support of innovative solutions.

3. Through this approach, Innovation Platforms aim to deliver a step change in UK performance, in the quality of public services and the ability of UK businesses to provide solutions for the global marketplace.

4. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests around £740 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. Website address for more information on EPSRC: www.epsrc.ac.uk/

5. Freeflow comprises Transport for London and City of York Council, as demonstrators of innovation provided by ACIS, Kizoom, Mindsheet, QinetiQ, Trakm8, Imperial College London, Loughborough University and the University of York. Freeflow will receive funding of £4m and the partners will contribute £1.5m of their own funds.

6. Foot-LITE comprises MIRA Ltd, Hampshire County Council, the IAM, Transport for London and Sussex Police, as demonstrators of innovation provided by the University of Southampton, TRW Conekt, Brunel University, Nissan, RDM, Ricardo, TORG and Zettlex. Footlite will receive funding of £2.6m and the partners will contribute £1.4m of their own funds.

7. The partners in User Innovation are the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE), Loughborough University, Ito World Ltd and Ordnance Survey, who will receive funding of £1.7m and the partners will contribute £0.3m of their own funds.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3066 Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292 Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300 Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

[Source: Department for Transport]

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