Engineers needed to develop advances in transport tech
From self-driving cars to zero-emissions vehicles, engineers are at the forefront of a revolution in mobility and transport.
Transport and engineering are big news right now. The government wants nearly all cars to be ultra-low emission by 2050. Manufacturers are racing to produce more efficient electric cars and vehicles that drive themselves. At the same time, smart technology is enabling a new era of mobility, thanks to the evolution of the “internet of things” and big data. All these advances require the ingenuity of engineers.
“It is difficult to think of an area of modern life that doesn’t benefit from the work of transport engineers,” says Lucy Rackliff, lecturer in transport and logistics at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University, Birmingham.
“Increasingly it’s a multidisciplinary field, where an understanding of what is technically possible has to be accompanied by an appreciation of the possible societal impacts. This may not have been so true in the past, where the focus was on predicting future transport needs and designing ways of meeting them.
“Now it’s necessary to look not only at how we might meet those future needs but what the implications of doing so are for the global and local environment, the economy and also for society.”
The processing power of smart tech, for example, has the potential to make a big difference to how we get to where we’re going, and the impact our journey has. “Processing power can analyse traffic flow on all modes, addressing congestion, spotting bottlenecks at particular times or providing individuals with alternative travel routes on alternate modes,” says Philippa Oldham, head of transport and manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. “All this can happen in real time, leading to a reduction in emissions, congestion and cost to individuals.”
Autonomous vehicles also present a huge opportunity. “Engineers have the opportunity to design solutions that take into account that individuals have diminished senses, such as sight, hearing, touch and event smell,” Oldham says. “Many older people feel uncertain when using technology, so we must make sure that the designers are not making assumptions.”
These changes are helping provide new jobs and opportunities, says Ryan Maughan, founder and managing director of Avid Technology: “This is challenging and rewarding work that is making a direct and tangible impact on society. Strong analytical skills, maths and science are essential, as well as a desire to learn and change things. These abilities will allow anyone to have a fantastic career in one of the most exciting fields of engineering.”
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