Technology / Air pollution is a killer, electric vehicles can save us

Air pollution is a killer, electric vehicles can save us

With air pollution now at critical life threatening levels in cities such as London, moving into 2030 the government needs to look at ways we can make our cities cleaner.

London in particular has an extremely dangerous air pollution problem and 7.9 million Londoners – 95 per cent of the capital’s population – live in areas exceeding World Health Organisation air quality guidelines by at least 50 per cent. It is widely acknowledged that the dangerous toxic air particles known as PM2.5 have a big impact on health following both short and long-term exposure and increase the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Research has found these toxic air particles have resulted in 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, while children exposed to them are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function and develop asthma. The main sources of PM2.5 emissions in London are from tyre and brake wear, construction and wood burning, with around half of PM2.5 in London from external sources outside the city. The mayor, Sadiq Khan, is planning to get pollution levels within WHO guidelines by 2030.

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The push now for 2030 is for people to switch to electric cars instead of diesel or petrol. Jaguar Land Rover has already announced that all its new cars launched will be electrified by 2020, while Aston Martin will produce its first all-electric model RapidE in 2019.

The mayor has also called on all vehicle manufacturers to take serious action of diesel emission and contribute to his Air Quality Fund. The government is planning to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

“London in particular has extremely dangerous air pollution – 95 per cent of the capital’s population live in areas exceeding the WHO’s air quality guidelines by at least 50 per cent”

Other projects, which could be in fruition by 2030 in the UK and potentially, help make our environment cleaner as well as reduce our energy needs, are driverless cars. As well as being electric they will also use the internet of things (IoT) to gather data about what is happening on our transport networks in our cities.

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Through IoT driverless cars will be able to talk to traffic lights, and other cars to understand where there are congestion spots. They would be able to drive in a way which uses the least amount of energy – for example, platoon driving, where vehicles drive closely to one another matching their speed and braking patterns to improve aerodynamics, traffic flow and performance.

As driverless cars can drive themselves around and free up the need to have your car in one spot for a day, people may choose they do not need to own a car so much. By 2030 two-car families could become one-car families. Driverless cars could become part of the sharing economy, where instead owning a car people will use them on a sharing basis.

Wherever we are in 2030, when it comes to driverless cars, the UK has to take action to make our cities cleaner.

This article was published in our Business Reporter Online: Robots vs Humans.
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