£1 million grant for project to develop dynamic road charging based on vehicle emissions


Tantalum believes its Air.Car services will be able to assist with delivering the hoped-for emissions reductions to be announced in the UK Government’s forthcoming action plan to improve air quality.

Connected-vehicle developer Tantalum and Imperial College London have begun work to develop a real-time NOx emissions estimation capability, which would give local authorities the ability to implement dynamic road charging based on actual vehicle emissions in what the firm suggests would be “a smarter, cheaper and fairer way”. The project has been awarded a £1m grant from Innovate UK.

“It is our belief that companies, local authorities and citizens all want to help clean up the air we breathe”, says Ozgur Tohumcu, Tantalum’s CEO. “Through Tantalum’s solution and unique patents, we are within reach of this goal. Imagine your vehicle giving you routes that avoid sensitive areas such as schools while rewarding you financially for driving in a manner that saves fuel and reduces emissions. Your vehicle then automatically pays specific emissions charges based on where, when and how you drive.”

The £1m grant was awarded to Tantalum by Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, to develop a real-time NOx emissions estimation capability. The ability to correlate real-time emissions data with location, driver behaviour and time information will create new opportunities for city planners and individuals alike to reduce their vehicle’s environmental impact.

Tantalum already has real-time CO2 emissions estimation capabilities, seemingly protected by a suite of patents.

NOx emissions lead to NO2, a poisonous gas that irritates the lungs and affects children’s lung development. Towns and cities across the UK have dangerous levels of NO2 significantly over legally allowed limits, with streets in London breaking annual limits within a week. Air pollution is a global problem with increasing urbanisation and congestion pushing it to the top of the agenda for major cities around the world.

The UK Government is scheduled to soon publish a new action plan to improve air quality with an expected increase in the number of Clean Air Zones around the country. Tantalum says that, once developed, its Air.Car services will be able to help deliver the emissions reductions required in a smarter, cheaper and fairer way than some of the blunter instruments proposed.

World-leading engineering university Imperial College London will assist in developing and verifying Tantalum’s ability to accurately estimate NOx emissions. Once completed, Tantalum says its system will help to reduce CO2 and NOx emissions, saving drivers fuel and maintenance costs while hugely reducing the environmental impact of their vehicles. Tantalum’s real-time CO2 emissions product has already helped customers save an average of 15% in fuel costs through better driving and this could also reduce NOx emissions by up to 50%.

Tantalum’s solution can be connected to any vehicle’s on-board computer. Combining the emissions data streams with the vehicle’s location and driver behaviour can inform drivers and public authorities of the real environmental impact of individual vehicles. The solution, says Tantalum, will deliver the ability to enforce a genuinely dynamic road charging scheme based on actual vehicle emissions: fairer and cheaper than the blunt instruments currently being proposed, which rely on blanket camera coverage and do not motivate better driving.

A major part of Tantalum’s Air.Car project is a 1,000-vehicle trial starting in autumn, to test and fine tune the solution. Tantalum is recruiting fleets from the public and commercial sectors as part of this trial, which will run within London and other UK cities where Clean Air Zones are to be established.

The Tantalum Air.Car project will also seemingly produce rich data sets, which will be able to improve emission factors to better inform government on the interplay between congestion, vehicle types and air pollution, helping them to plan cleaner, smarter and healthier cities.

Dr Marc Stettler from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London said: “We are very excited to be involved in the Air.Car project, as it illustrates how Imperial’s research expertise and world-class facilities can deliver practical and real-world solutions to the environmental problems facing our rapidly growing cities.”

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