24 May 2020 Blog

How Road-as-a-Service Could Transform Urban Mobility

A dashboard countdown tells a driver when a traffic light will turn green and what speed to maintain in order to avoid red lights down the road. Machine vision and artificial intelligence (AI) built into streetlights collect data on traffic to assist city planners without compromising privacy. Vehicles warn drivers of upcoming hazards and potential collisions.

These scenes are already playing out on roads around the world, all thanks to a quiet revolution brought about by cities and automobiles becoming increasingly connected.

The trend will only accelerate with the rollout of 5G cellular service and the expansion of the internet of things (IoT), according to Tal Kreisler, co-founder and CEO of  NoTraffic,  a startup based in Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley that’s helping bring about the revolution in connected cars and city infrastructure. The coronavirus crisis and its aftermath may actually provide an additional catalyst for the trend as cities are forced to  rapidly adapt their transportation infrastructures.

Pushing the envelope even further, Kreisler’s company is pioneering an autonomous traffic management system, which aims to reduce congestion, prevent collisions, and reward drivers for driving at off-peak times once things return to normal. This vision provides a glimpse of the future of roadways that Kreisler and others call road-as-a-service (RaaS). “There is an exciting era ahead of us,” Kreisler says, “where the collaboration between advanced vehicles and advanced infrastructure will create a much more efficient and safer road for all of us.”

What Is RaaS?

In 2018, more than 36,000 people died on American roads alone. The majority of the deaths occurred in cities. “That is something that can be prevented by infrastructure,” says Kreisler, who points to RaaS as the solution that can reduce accidents, incentivize safer driving, and raise funds for improvements.

RaaS works by charging drivers based on how they use roads rather than through indiscriminate levies such as fuel taxes, which don’t take usage into account. This change is needed, Kreisler believes, because the shift toward electric vehicles will increasingly squeeze city budgets that have relied on fuel taxes. “Today, there are more and more cars on the roads. However, since vehicles are becoming more efficient and electric cars are more significant, there is a vital budget shortage for infrastructure.”

For that reason alone, Kreisler predicts that city and highway planners will increasingly tax road-use rather than vehicle-use. The  rise of congestion pricing  within cities is one such example. New York City, the  first in the U.S.  slated to begin congestion pricing, so far plans to charge a single fee for vehicles entering the area between 60th Street and the southern tip of Manhattan.

Kreisler and his team, however, believe RaaS offers an even more nuanced approach that will better benefit drivers, pedestrians, and planners alike via connected vehicles and infrastructure. RaaS could, for example, charge drivers to take shorter routes to their destinations, perhaps through residential areas that would like to see less traffic; meanwhile, tolls could charge ride-sharing vehicles different amounts depending on the number of passengers on board and which areas they travel through.

Click here to read the full article by Michael Belfiore, originally published by DellTechnologies.com