Rising to the challenge of rapidly evolving smart road technologies and global innovation, SANRAL has established the Technical Innovation Hub (TIH), which is driven from the Western Region Office in Cape Town.
Although not a physical space, the TIH can be likened to a think tank of young intellectuals, mentored by senior professional engineers, and inspired by the possibilities that exist when technology is harnessed to improve lives and promote progressive development in transport.
“I cannot overstate the importance and relevance of credible research in the work we do. A clear and direct strategy is needed to ensure economic growth in our industry.”
Smart technology and the road user can no longer be separate concepts. Road users harness smart technology on their devices, in their vehicles, in their offices and homes. It stands to reason that this technology should be integrated into the travel experience during our everyday commutes. This is ultimately where the world is headed and South Africa should be no different.
Introducing the TIH to industry creates a platform for graduate engineers to showcase some of the innovation-focused pilot projects that are in development there. The projects include the use of a robotic flagger at road construction sites, intelligent road studs to provide additional guidance to the road user and the planned use of 3D road markings.
Other presentations include:
/ YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
Kobus van der Walt, who heads up the Hub, said: “I cannot overstate the importance and relevance of credible research in the work we do. A clear and direct strategy is needed to ensure economic growth in our industry and our research can be used to inform this strategy. We want to create solutions that speak directly to the needs of the road user. For too long engineers have created transport solutions they think will serve the needs of the public. Our approach is to stay engaged with road users at all levels, and through research and partnerships, we aim to create an environment where the road user has a vested interest in getting the best use out of our national road network.”
While advancement in road user technology seems predominantly geared at motorists, it is important to note that in South Africa, pedestrians make up a massive component of road users. Therein lies a major driver of road safety through the use of technology.
Engineers with postgraduate studies in research topics relevant to transportation technology advancements, such as automated pedestrian detection and drone applications, play a major role in how we apply technology in saving lives. The technology already exists – SANRAL is now well positioned to embrace it.