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Smart crosswalks, ease of public transport and advanced mapping technologies help to make cities greener and safer

Smart crosswalks that can communicate with autonomous cars, systems that make the usage of public transport effortless, advanced mapping technologies and autonomous vehicles are just some of the solutions planned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower the number of road deaths in the European Union to (almost) zero by year 2050. Estonia has an important role to play in this.

Maarja Rannama, the CEO of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) collaboration platform ITS Estonia, uniting different ITS organisations, sees that the EU’s vision zero target to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries and the EU climate objectives are achievable only by innovation and digitalisation.

Estonia was one of the first countries in the world to allow testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads, we also have strong competencies in cybersecurity and exchanging data seamlessly and securely, so she sees her native Estonia as a stronghold.

As an example, one simple yet effective and innovative solution that helped to reduce CO2 emissions by quite a lot was implemented already back in 2011 on the Estonian and Russian borders.

To help reduce the waiting times on the borders for truck drivers a digital queue management system was developed in public-private collaboration. Before the system on average, it took 60 hours for one truck to cross the border, now it has diminished to only 1.5 hours.

“You can imagine the difference in CO2 emission and noise pollution for the locals. The potential saving per year is 64 tons of CO2, just for using this one simple solution,” Rannama described.

To achieve greener and smarter mobility, it is very important to use new innovative technologies and get the most out of data. Since autonomous vehicles are driving and cities are getting more and more connected, then collecting 3D data is crucial.

“Estonia is one of the few countries in the world which is fully covered with digital twin 3D maps. We also implement different artificial intelligence-based solutions as an example for avoiding obstructions in intersections in our capital Tallinn,” she added.

Software makes public transport simpler to use

Sixfold has been developing a technology that integrates transport management systems, truck telematics, mapping data and predictive analytics for around five years.

In simpler words, the founder of the company Tõnu Runnel says that Sixfold helps the world’s biggest companies, their carriers and customers get accurate delivery estimates and see where their shipments are in real time.

Although many of Sixfold’s clients, such as Coca-Cola, Tesco and Nestlé, are mostly after solutions that help to improve deliveries, vastly reduced CO2 emissions are a byproduct of Sixfold.

To attract more people to use public transportation Ridango is making the use of public transportation easier and more effortless. The Head of Sales at Ridango Argo Verk points out that according to predictions around 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.

Smart and simple to use ticketing, payment and real-time passenger information systems make the use of public transport enjoyable and convenient. “Cities need to address urbanisation challenges but on the other hand public transportation needs to become more personal,” said Verk.

By personal public transport he means that there will be integration between different service providers to provide solutions that cater to the need of when and where people want to use public transport.

For example, millions of people in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, already use Ridango’s solutions every day. According to Verk, a technology-based relief is a key to the challenges that transit authorities face daily.

No more traffic accidents


To achieve smarter mobility the infrastructure also needs to be looked at from a different perspective. EyeVi Technologies is a geospatial AI-powered startup that provides on-demand mapping technology that makes road infrastructure management more sustainable and helps to reduce the upkeep costs by around 30%. They aim to eliminate bottlenecks in predictive maintenance, traffic management and safety auditing.

The mapping technology company is run by Gaspar Anton. According to him, EyeVi also increases safety for each single road user. Roads are already being mapped today but Anton sees that mostly outdated and inefficient methods are used for it.

EyeVi Technologies has developed an artificial intelligence system that detects defects and objects on roads. The system relies on information gathered from LIDAR scanner, GNSS/INS system, 360° panoramic camera and data collection computer with software.

The data is collected by a car that is equipped with EyeVi’s state of the art system. One great advantage is the fact that the car can drive at a normal motorway speed and does not need to slow down. EyeVi’s clients can be found in Estonia, Poland, Finland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America.

CEO of Bercman Technologies Mart Suurkask is working towards the dream to make traffic accidents a thing of the past. The company creates innovative solutions to increase traffic safety to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities.

Smart pedestrian crosswalks are designed to increase pedestrian safety. It is a system developed by Suurkask and his team to make crossing a street on an unregulated crosswalk much safer.

“Our products detect vehicle types, measure their relative speeds, collect anonymous statistics and monitor the driver behavior on the road. Smarter vehicles require smarter roads,” said Suurkask. The system is smart and developed in a way that it can talk with autonomous vehicles.

Helping to make last mile rides green, safe and autonomous, Auve Tech is developing a self-driving shuttle bus called Iseauto. Chairman of Auve Tech, Taavi Rõivas lists the key selling points of Iseauto: Level 4 autonomous, road legal, seats up to eight people, modular design that allows customisation, compact design and either electric or hydrogen fuel cell-powered.

Due to the nature of Iseauto Rõivas sees it can extend the public transport to deliver the passenger right into their doorstep. That also means the need for parking lots is reduced. Iseauto is fully developed in Estonia but it has been tested in other EU countries.

During the last winter, Estonia experienced heavy snow and temperatures around -25 degrees Celsius, yet again in the summer, we can enjoy +30 degree weather. These temperature changes are to Rõivas’s liking as the team can see how the vehicles operate in different conditions. Despite this, one of his desires is to test Iseauto somewhere in the Middle East where the temperature reaches even higher degrees.

Road safety and a greener future are fuelled by innovation and digitalisation and Estonian companies are proud to be a part of the journey. Thanks to their efforts and their smart solutions, one can hope that the goal of safer roads and reduced gas emissions will become a reality even sooner than initially planned.

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