The TransSmart spearhead project is a platform for the development of smooth-running, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly transport systems. Our transportation systems need to be reshaped to make them more sustainable. This should involve using low-carbon energy, employing clean and energy-efficient vehicles, devising intelligent ITC and transport solutions, and supporting the necessary socio-technical changes. The project has been initiated and is coordinated by VTT, in line with two of VTT’s strategic priorities: sustainable development and the digital world. It takes advantage of VTT’s multidisciplinary expertise in traffic and transportation. The programme has both social and business dimensions.
The research project has two main targets:
- to produce efficient transport services by minimizing both costs and environmental impacts (societal aspect)
- to develop new business opportunities for Finnish companies in context of low-carbon and intelligent transport, cleantech and smart cities (e.g. biofuels, electric vehicles and ICT/ITS).
The TransSmart project will create new tools while also utilising existing research methods for forecasting, impact assessment, modelling and analysing user behaviour. These tools may be applied to steer developments and facilitate well-informed decisions in the public and private sector that will take us towards a smart, low-carbon transport system. One example of an ongoing smart transport system development project part is the Co-Nordic TOP-NEST project, funded by Nordic Energy Research (NER). This project examines systemic change towards a road transport system in 2050 based entirely on renewable energy. Technology platforms and energy sources under consideration include electricity, biofuels and hydrogen. The necessary future value chains and political decisions are being analysed for four different future scenarios.
The complex outcomes of the TransSmart programme are intended to benefit various stakeholders. Some findings will deepen the knowledge-base on related issues, and thus serve decision-makers, especially at different levels of the public administration. At the same time they will help us to achieve emission reduction targets and improve the energy efficiency of the transport sector cost-effectively.
Some parts of the project also aim to create tangible products, concepts or new service concepts, thus establishing a basis for future business activities. Some of these developments may even progress all the way to the end-user phase with the support of the project. The TransSmart project combines a number of interdisciplinary research themes related to the transport sector, and will help build a network facilitating cooperation between researchers. New and innovative solutions invariably arise when researchers from different backgrounds and fields of expertise work together. Furthermore, the involvement of companies from an early stage in the innovation process gives a good starting point for rapid product development and commercialisation. Although objectives and policies are decided in the political sphere, in modern society it is generally necessary to act in accordance with market forces and seek the acceptance of consumers. When striving to encourage profound changes in citizens’ behaviour we therefore need to pay close attention to the contents of communications, to ensure that the key messages are received and interpreted correctly.