Global Intelligent Transportation System

Global Intelligent Transportation System (GITS) may be considered as the Global Transport Internet.  This concept is aimed to create the system of special tracks and sea routs all over the world on the base of unified standards where unmanned ecological vehicles and ships can be used. The main idea of concept is to isolate as much as possible the environment from the transportation systems and the transportation systems from the environment. It means that this system could be environmentally friendly from one side and reliable and safe from another side. It is possible if the price of that isolation is reasonable. The main advantage of GITS is that it is not a breakthrough but it is an evolutionary step of present vehicles and transportation technologies.  The great problem of contemporary transportation systems is the human factor. The present development of control and communication systems has created the base for using of unmanned vehicles and vessels minimizing the dramatic consequences of this factor.

The GITS concept includes two subsystems: Ground and Sea. Both subsystems can be developed independently. The use of unmanned vessels above the water looks dangerous for humans and this zone should be left for human driven ships and boats. So, the unmanned vessels have to be used under water only. An element that unites both subsystems is an unmanned automated vehicle (AV) that may be considered as a conventional electric vehicle or self-propelling container.  The presented concepts of subsystems are ambitious. They are ecological but there is a chance that one of them (or both) is (are) competitive today with real transportation systems.

Keywords: global automated transport system, GITS, submarine freight transportation system,  SFTS, unmanned vehicle, unmanned vessel, global transport internet.

1.      Introduction


The main idea of Global Intelligent Transportation System (GITS) is to make an effective and competitive transportation system that could be environmentally friendly, reliable, and safe. Present time there are four main transportation modes: water transport, rail transport, road transport, and aviation (except pipe, cable, off-road, and space transport). Each of them has some advantages and disadvantages relating to others and together they satisfy human  needs in transportation today. GITS could be considered as an innovative competitive rail system that may be flexible like road system but faster and more regular than it. Short time of freight handling and high regular speed on main GITS tracks will make this system competitive on early stages of its development. Customers all over the world will be able to save lots of capitals through their stock reduction and shorter transportation time. 

GITS will affect all aspects of contemporary national and international transportation like traffic management, transportation pricing, rates, national border crossing, etc.

Present concept does not include detailed solutions of system elements. Most of those solutions are present on the market today and they can be discussed now but lots of them will be revised on the stage of project development.


2.      Automated Vehicle (AV)

The Automated Vehicle is a key element of GITS including its water subsystem SFTS. It could be considered as a self-propelling 20’ or 40’ freight container for intercity transportation. It will be possible to use the GITS for passenger transportation (where it is justified) but after the system confirms its safety and reliability with the freight transportation first. To make the AV reasonably feasible it should be configured from components presented on the market at reasonable price. In order to make it competitive with existed modes of transportation the configuration of AV has to meet the requirements of that environment where that vehicle is to be used. One of those requirements is the ability to transport 20’ or 40’ standard containers.

The presented image of AV is a result of step by step configuration that is shown below.

A.     Dimensions

To define the size of AV we should observe the requirements of international standards to trucks because, it will be possible to use AV on general motorways (for example: using the remote control from a leading car when the AV automatically repeats the path and traffic condition of that leading car).

General regulations for international transport within EU are presented in the Directive 96/53/EC. This directive gives the maximum motor vehicle length for European international transport equal to12 m that is shorter than a 40’ container (12,2 m) but it assumes a long standard unit approximately equal to 13.6 m (semitrailer length). AV is not a semitrailer but it will be possible to limit the access of AV to the roads where this unit can make a problem.

So, assume that the longest AV is 13.6 m long.

The mentioned above directive limits the width to 2.55 m for ordinary truck and 2.60 m for refrigerated trucks.

Assume again that AV width is equal to 2.6 m because the width of standard container is 8’ (2.44 m) that means that width 2.6 m is extremely tight to place a standard container inside.
The height is limited to 4.0 m. It is tight also but it possible to observe this requirement.

B.     Chassis

The railroad vehicles have hard wheels with low coefficient of rolling friction. It is one of main advantages of railroad vehicle relating to motor vehicle. But nothing is perfect and the railroads have low slopes and they require special tracks with railroad points. These railroad points significantly limit the capacity (efficiency) of railroads. Moreover, railroad tracks create some problems in local distribution. Physical distribution of freight to its final destination point requires the chassis of automobiles. We like it or not but we have to recognize that the mentioned above chassis are the only solution for universal and flexible transportation system this time. Another argument for automobile chassis is the price per one km of road and the price of its service and repair. Motor roads do not require special standards (like width of track that are different in different regions). The requirements to surface of motor tracks are not as strict as they are to railroad tracks. If the surface of motor road is worse than it is required the speed can be decreased automatically by AV control system. It is applicable to both types of track (motor and railroad) but the requirements to motorways are more flexible. 

C.     Body contour

The expected speed (optimistic version - 150kmph) of GITS traffic will require the streamlined form of AV. This speed is very dangerous for conventional trucks regarding to human factor but it is acceptable for AV trucks that are unmanned.

The air drag (aerodynamic resistance) is rising sharply for speeds higher than 60 kmph for any ground vehicle. It will be possible to exhaust some air from the tunnels but the level of exhaustion will be limited and in any case the contour of body should be aerodynamic as much as possible in order to achieve the declared speed. This requirement completes the body contour of AV that you can see on the Fig. 1.

Fig. 1.

D.     Loading space

The largest AV vehicle will be able to carry standard containers (2x20’ or 1x40’) but its cargo volume can be used more effectively without them.  On the Fig. 2 the 40’ container is marked blue.

The specific loading space is less than in railroad car but it is increased relating to conventional truck. It is possible to make some modules of AV extendable or removable like it is shown on the Fig. 3. Transportation of standard 20’ or 40’ container will be inevitable for any transitional period. These containers will be used for multimodal transportation for a long time yet that means that they will be reloaded from/to trucks, ships, or railroad cars. Freight terminals will be provided with the appropriate hoisting equipment that may be used to take off the roof of AV and to put it back after the container was loaded or unloaded. At the same time the best solution is to pull/push the container through the back door thanks to guiding plastic rails inside the loading space of AV. It seems as a cheap and effective solution.


Fig. 2.

As soon as the GITS system becomes really global it will not need the containers at all. The loading space of AV will be used more effectively.


Fig. 3.


It is possible to use a shorter AV for one 20’ container (for example) but here the maximum size AV was considered only.

E.     Power

Electric motor is the best solution for AV. It is possible to get the electric power from overhead wires, Fuel Cell plant, and hybrid engines. Two last ones have some disadvantages: they have to carry the fuel inside and they have to refuel the vehicle from time to time.  Moreover, hybrid engines use the internal combustion engine that is not environmentally friendly and requires the extraction of gases from the tunnel.

GITS tunnels will have the roof and it is possible to place the power overhead wires under it. The system of power transmission from power wires to the vehicle may be developed on the base of existed railroad power transmission systems. Different trolleybus power transmission systems are used all over the world buy they have been initially adapted for “intracity” transportation and the GITS is proposed as the intercity one. So, the GITS power transmission system may be realized on the base of railroad one.

On the Fig.1 you can see two single arm pantographs. These pantographs go down any time when the AV significantly deviates from the middle of tunnel and when it is approaching a track changing zone. At the same time they assume some deviation within defined limits during the movement in the track.

It is planned to cross the track changing zone using the inertia (pantographs should be in down position) but there will be a need for a battery or for a set of super condensers in order AV could cross that zone after any emergency stop in it.

We should not forget that AV will be able to go outside of GITS tunnels. One solution is to place overhead wires in an open space (ex.: Freight Depot at the exit of track exchange zone). It is possible to place similar overhead wires over some conventional roads (similar to trolleybus power wires). Second solution is to find some place inside the future AV to install a removable Fuel Cell power plant or Diesel Generator unit. Third solution is to use a pilot car with a power plant for AV propulsion where the power is transmitted to the AV through a cable fixed on/in the coupling link.


3.                  Traffic Condition

AV traffic condition will define the traffic capacity. It has been intentionally suggested the speed 150 kmph for future AV traffic. But a real speed will be defined by a compromise between the cost of project and its operating cost.
The distance between the vehicles will be defined by first pilot (prototype) models. For the first approximation it is possible to suggest this distance equal to 10 m. Determining factor of it will be the response time of future AV brake system. (For a vehicle transporting dangerous, or hazardous materials, or passengers this distance will be higher by programming this distance in a vehicle controller.)
I would like to note that an AV will be able to control the distance with ahead AV using its own distance measuring system but this function will be duplicated through permanent communication with ahead AV. That means permanent transmition of information through radio communication facilities about any changes of ahead AV traffic condition to the behind AV before or at the time it starts to fulfill them itself. It will shorten the reaction time of behind AVs significantly. The
distance measuring system is reacting according to the speed of distance reduction. The signal sent through the communication channels is able to reduce the speed simultaneously for any defined number of behind AVs.

4.                  Tracks

Tunnel is required to protect the track from weather conditions and to eliminate any access of animals or unauthorized access of people, vehicles, bikes, etc.

Walls and roof of tunnels should be made from light changeable panels that must be as cheap as possible for reliable protection of track from wind, snow, and rain. See Fig. 4. Even a super reliable system is not guaranteed from an accident like a terrorist attack or fire. It is easier to destroy a light panel in case of a fire and it is easier to install a new one if it is a standard one.

Tunnels are the need for GITS system. It is the base of its reliability and safety.

Fenders (marked yellow) will guide the body of AV in case of any emergency to prevent it from overturning.  They may be used for laser beam reflection also.

Ceiling is a good place to mark there a spare guiding line and different informative bar codes needed for vehicle control and its navigation and safety (place, position, warning sign, etc). 

Fig. 4.

The “bar code” technology may be used to define the position of AV in the track change zone.

In case the tracks are separated by the walls from each other it is possible to use the air stream inside the track. I expect that this "tail wind" can significantly reduce the air drag inside. In any case it will be the increased air pressure before AV. It is possible to use flaps to extract some excessive air that may be used (for example) for roof cleaning.  

The hard surface inside the tunnels is similar to a conventional motorway hard surface that means that this technology is not a new one also.

Intersection of two different roads will be realized on different levels. Fig. 5 shows an example of similar intersection with four exit/entrance/direction (EED) track changing zones.

Fig. 5.

The difference of GITS track changing zone from conventional motor roads is that any demerging  road is always after a merging one. In case any problem occurs in the track change zone the outgoing or incoming vehicles can reject the operation of track change and return to its initial tracks. There will be two types of track changing zones:
1. Stationary (main or EED track changing zones);
2. Temporary (traffic capacity increase, repair, accident, etc., and that will be located in every 5 or 10 km).

5.                  Requirements to control system

Control systems have to provide safe and reliable traffic of AV vehicles inside the tunnel system.  The response or reaction time of contemporary automatic systems is much shorter than the human reaction. It is a great safety factor.

It is possible to assume that AV control system will include the following subsystems:

1.     AV motion control system to control the motion inside the GITS tunnels. It should be an isolated control system where the program is hardwired. This control system will include a distance measuring systems; scanners; positioning system; bar code scanning systems, guided tape navigation system (as emergency comparison system), etc.

2.     AV motion control system to control the motion outside the GITS tunnels in the Freight Depot. Similar systems are used on many plants and warehouses today. They are known as AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) wired navigation system or LGV (Laser Guided Vehicle) guided tape navigation system).

3.     Remote control system for general motorways  (ex.: using a leading car);

4.     Traffic condition data communication system to provide the data transfer between ahead and behind AV’s that are in direct visual contact in the tunnel or in the track change zones. This data transfer may be realized through a cellular/chain mobile communications system (special or general) + spare optical communicating system. This communication system has to supply the data for control system mentioned above in the point 1.

5.     General data communication system to provide the data transfer between the AV and traffic control centers (ex.: automatic for track change or manned traffic control centers for general control). This data transfer may be realized through a cellular mobile communications system also but the manned control should be limited. It will be possible to change the route but it must not affect the AV motion control system mentioned above. (The error is human and some human errors may be deceptive.)

6.     Unified control system for track changing zone. This system has to regulate the traffic in track changing zone.

All mentioned above control and measuring systems will be developed on the base of existing solutions that are presented on the market today.

For example: Laser distance measuring systems are cheap and reliable solutions for AVs. The optical measuring devices are most suitable for AV control in the tunnel and in the track changing zone. It is possible that 14 laser metering devices will be enough to control the distance between AVs (ahead and behind ones), between AV and walls of tunnel, between AVs in track changing zone. For first approximation it is possible to install them on different levels at the angles: 0°, 15°, 30°, 90°. Fig. 6 shows the track changing zone. Front and rear devices should be placed on different levels to avoid any interference with beams from other AVs.

Fig. 6.

 Response time of laser scanners presented on the markets today is not appropriate to use them for AV with declared speed around 150 kmph. But this situation can be changed in the very near future.

6.                  Traffic management, pricing, rates

 Regarding the control system it is possible to note that GITS is very similar to railroads but AV has no any mechanical contact with guiding rails (fenders). GITS is planned as a GLOBAL transportation system. Like communication Internet it will be able to spread all over the world. This global system does not exclude competition inside itself. Any transportation company will be able to use its fleet of Automated Vehicles within GITS. Moreover, this system does not violate the sovereignty of any nation. All elements of GITS infrastructure (including sea terminals) may be national except infrastructure in the open sea. Infrastructure of GITS system in open sea must be managed by any agency but it should be under the UN jurisdiction.

Nations have to build the GITS roads, freight/passenger terminals, and other infrastructure according to unified GITS standards. It is the sovereign power of each nation to define the ownership of GITS system on its territory but it has to recognize the coordinating role of appropriate international agencies.
Traffic management can be realized by a nation on its own territory but it must be fully opened to other nations and never break the regulations, agreements, or standards defined for GITS traffic management. For example: any nation cannot use an AV vehicle inside its national tunnel system that does not fit the approved GITS standards and that has not passed through the express vehicle test before it enters the tunnel system.
Any accident in any national tunnel system must be investigated by an appropriate international agency.

Pricing will be based on the base of international class and commodity tariffs. General basic tariffs are possible thanks to the fact that the system is unified and the AV vehicles are unified also. Any country is able to change the basic tariffs but any change should be proved by that country. Pricing for power will organized similarly. If AVs are equipped with pantographs and are getting the power through overhead wires they will be equipped with power metering system. As soon as AV leaves a zone of any power operator  it  will be able to provide that operator with the value of consumed power in his zone. The same method is used for state border crossing. Price tariffs for electric power must be regulated. If any country is using higher electric power rate it should justify that.

Another example: track fare. There will be international track fare based on the price of one km of tunnel system and its operational service. The reliefs in different countries are different and the track cost may be different also. Bridges, mountains or underwater tunnels will increase track fare but any increase of track fare should be justified.

GITS is able to convert the traffic management from gambling to a simple calculation.

7.                  International Transportation

International transportation today is accompanied by many documents. The average cost of processing a single set of documents for a shipment of goods may be several hundred of US dollars. GITS system will provide all involved countries with the unified information in national language about the product being shipped, its origin, departure and destination points, route, all inspection stops on the route, etc. It will require completing the harmonization of national customs codes making them international.

All this information may be automatically requested from any AV by any national agency long before its border crossing by that AV. It will be possible that an authorized agency of any nation is able to stop an AV at the special check points or at the destination exit of tunnel system for inspection if there is a reason for it. State borders will be free of queuing.

8.                  Conclusion

The presented concepts of GITS and SFTS are feasible because they are based on the real technologies. International cooperation would be the best solution to make a feasibility study of this project. To define that this concept is acceptable for a real feasibility study it should be discussed openly.

© 2011 Global Intelligent Transportation System