Innovation in Highways
We’ve been at the forefront of the delivery of innovative infrastructure projects since their inception, from the 407ETR in Toronto, first free-flow toll road in America to the dynamically priced Managed Lanes projects in Texas, Virginia and North Carolina.
Technology and expectations related to infrastructure and mobility are rapidly evolving and in parallel, we are still pushing the limits with our vision of the future.
Digitalization and Sustainability
Digitalization and Sustainability are the pillars of our innovation strategy. We are moving away from traditional highways to sustainable digital corridors that meet the latest mobility needs, including the respect for the environment by decreasing congestion, a focus on safety for users and employees thanks to pure creativity and applied technology, and the creation of value for the communities through innovation, qualified jobs and economic growth.
With the arrival of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles, the world of mobility is likely to change substantially, and the infrastructure underpinning this new mobility led by our mobility solutions, will evolve to capture and maximize the benefits for users and society from these technologies, particularly in terms of roadway capacity optimization and safety for all.
Our Smart Managed Lanes and highways that control congestion through pricing are becoming even smarter, more comfortable and safer. While incrementally improving our algorithms to manage congestion on our highways, other tools become available to further enhance customer experience.
New sensors on the road, like the ones that are being deployed on autonomous vehicles (Lidars, Machine Learning Cameras etc) allow for the identification of all events, incidents, obstacles etc on the road by the road operator in a way that can then be traced and communicated in real time to all users, thanks to the latest computing and communication systems, in a trust-worthy fashion for the vehicles and drivers to make those split-second driving decisions.
Those technologies will allow our infrastructure to communicate with drivers or their vehicles in different ways. CAVs will automatically receive the data associated with this information while the rest of the vehicles will benefit from and Apps and extra digital panels along the highway.
Dynamic capacity management could be used to refine green cycles at traffic lights or recommend lanes and speeds of travel to minimize bottlenecks during special situations, based on machine learning analysis of previous events, in a seamless automated way for the drivers.
New business opportunities and value for operators are being explored from the implementation of cutting edge connectivity technology (5G, C-V2X etc) along infrastructure corridors to enhance and expedite the delivery of critical messaging to vehicles as well as internet services both for the drivers of the corridor, and potentially for the neighboring areas.
We operate a unique set of technologically advanced corridors like AIVIA, together with top industry players that help us deliver the blueprint for the infrastructure of the future and become pioneers in testing the latest platforms and services.
Our proven track record as a mobility manager through digitalization, dynamic pricing, operational capabilities and analytics expertise, are key to the creation of value in our existing assets but also the expansion to other lines, such as the pay-per-use or congestion management schemes in urban environments.
The latter two are also aligned with the principles of sustainability and digitalization that create long term value for society which we are pursuing.
The increase in EV penetration combined with the externalities of transportation (deterioration of the infrastructure, accidents, pollution etc) make a strong case for long term sustainable solutions based on the principle of user pays; polluter pays whereby incentives are properly placed for more effective results. We are already working with different authorities to not only apply those principles but do so in the most efficient way, taking advantage of the latest innovations and all the value that our expertise and experience can bring to the table.
In urban environments, current and expected trends point to an increase in congestion from package deliveries, shifts from public transport to car transport (shared or not), and in the future even more congestion likely due to autonomous vehicles empty rides amongst others. We believe in more livable cities, for which different toolkits should be available, leveraging the latest technologies and applied differently depending on the city´s own idiosyncrasies.
Digitalization and digital low emission zones is a primary step to track, diagnose and implement certain measures; digital curbside management that allows for short term reservation and parking in congested urban cores could also be a very effective tool; if a modal shift back to public transport is required, a direct disincentive in the form of congestion pricing could also be applied surgically, or tactically thanks to GPS, smartphone and other sensor technology; and ultimately investment in the very costly public transport system through concession models could be key in some cities in which their public transport is not able to cope with demand.
All the initiatives are part of our portfolio of solutions that are aligned with our long term vision of the mobility of the future both in urban and interurban realms.
Behavioral science, user experience and customer analytic tools are also key components of our innovation efforts. Identifying and creating win-win solutions for our customers and incentivizing them to be safer and smarter about their choices will continue to be the way to maximize value and goodwill.
Innovative advances at project level
Our concessions’ teams have proven time and time again their commitment to innovation and sustainability and are constantly taking steps to optimize their operations thinking outside the box. Examples include the deployment of solar panels on top of project tunnels to minimize energy consumption in the most demanded time (during the daytime), or the deployment of local species of plants to minimize the landscaping efforts and contribute to the local ecosystems.
Several concessions are already involved as testbeds in Connected vehicle programs to enhance safety, with the 407ETR being also the first one in Canada to install high contrast lane striping especially designed to aid autonomous vehicles as part of their Living Labs program.
Team engagement and pure ingenuity are, as have always been, the foundations upon which we, together with our subsidiaries, build better solutions for all and will continue to do so in the future.