Being a “green” motorist could no longer mean sacrificing technological comforts, according to the boss of a Coventry-based automotive innovation firm.
David Keene, of RDM Automotive, has returned from a fact-finding trip to Seattle and is confident the company’s “intelligent platform” for zero emission vehicles will fill a gap in the marketplace.
The company says its bespoke vehicle telematics system is different to existing services as it builds on the basic performance information by providing real time access to emails, music and data, such as traffic, entertainment and car parking.
Developed with Coventry University and the West Midlands Mobile Wireless Project, the breakthrough has had global recognition and its potential impact has been recognised by a nomination for the Entrepreneurial Spirit title at the Lord Stafford Awards.
“Telematics are well established with conventional models, but the embryonic nature of the low and zero emission market means people are being forced to swap convenience for beliefs and we didn’t think this was fair,” said Mr Keene, who is involved in producing the first hydrogen fuel cell Microcab.
“Working with the University and partners, we set about developing a platform to provide this missing function and the initial tests during the Science City demonstrator have proved we are close to a solution.”
The technical-minded Mr Keene says the “intelligent platform” uses a Siemens-based in-vehicle ECU, Microsoft Virtual Earth web platform, BT Wireless Cities programme and a mixture of 3G (4G), GPRS and Wifi to ensure constant connection.
RDM’s new system provides the driver, passenger and central management system with information, from the effectiveness of the hydrogen fuel cell and the behaviour of surrounding drivers to access to Microsoft office, MP3 music and real time information.
This gives users in or out of the car the option to track the vehicle, undertake remote diagnostics, work from the vehicle and integrate it with their music and office at home.
“There is an international move towards creating ‘Intelligent Cities’ where information is available to everyone living, working or travelling through them,” said Mr Keene. “The system connects the car to the environment it is in as it arrives on the outskirts of the city and then has access to information on tourist attractions, latest traffic updates and parking spaces.
“Not only will this add to the driving experience of the user, but will also create commercial opportunities for the towns and cities through greater awareness of what is available. If drivers also know where they can park in advance it will help to reduce carbon emissions even further by reducing the time wasted in looking for an empty space.”
RDM Automotive, which was founded in 1993 and which employs 28 people, says it is about 18 months away from deployment of the new systems and will continue to work with local government and larger companies to ensure the system fits seamlessly with ‘Intelligent Cities’ all over the world.
The initial plans are for the company to work with car makers to install the platform at manufacturing stage, although there will also be an option to develop it for the aftermarket as well.
Its work has seen it nominated for the Lord Stafford Awards, which aims to showcase the best in West Midlands’ collaboration between universities and innovative companies.
Lord Stafford, patron for the awards, said he is delighted that the local automotive industry is again at the forefront of new developments.
“Our region has an unprecedented history in vehicle innovation and it is great to see a modern day company matching its industry skills with the best in academic support to support the green agenda,” he said.
“There is no doubting the potential of the idea and the recent ‘Mission to Seattle’ has reinforced RDM’s belief that they have a product that could make a real difference to the low emission vehicle driving experience.”