Leeds City Council signs up to pollution-cutting smart city tech project

Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon technologies – has joined forces with Leeds City Council to launch Project ACCRA.

The project will showcase Smart City technology applications that demonstrate real-time emissions control, using live air quality data to trigger electric hybrid engines to automatically switch to zero-emission running in heavily polluted areas. The project will be demonstrated in Leeds and promises to offer cities new ways to reduce urban air pollution without additional charges to motorists or businesses.

A consortium of automotive innovators, co-ordinated by intelligent mobility experts the Transport Systems Catapult, will collaborate to capture real-time air quality readings that will trigger hybrid electric engines to switch automatically to zero-emission running. Known as active geofencing, the technology concept will be tested on a hybrid vehicle interface developed by Tevva Motors.

Transportation network systems developer Dynniq will develop a decision-making engine capable of taking inputs from a range of city data, such as live air quality information and real-time traffic conditions. EarthSense will be responsible for monitoring and uploading updated local air quality levels to the interface, which will be used to trigger on-demand zero-emissions running instructions in the participating Tevva vehicles.

Cenex and the Transport Systems Catapult will evaluate the application, markets, business models and scalability of the system in hopes of using the technology more widely in Leeds and potential UK Clean Air Zones.

UK government estimates show nearly 50,000 people die each year due to poor air quality, driving local and national policymakers to put increasingly strict regulation on urban transportation, most recently through the UK Plan For Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations and the potential introduction of Clean Air Zones in the country’s most polluted cities. However, the complexity of implementing strict emissions controls in specific areas can come with additional costs to local councils, motorists, and businesses.

Steve Carroll, Head of Transport, Cenex said, “Local air quality is a persistent and growing problem in urban centres across the UK and globally. Using real-time air quality data to automatically instruct vehicles driving into high pollution areas to switch to zero-emissions driving, has the potential to transform urban transportation regulation and save thousands of lives.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for environment and sustainability, said: “It is great to be supporting this innovative new technology, and looking at how we can best implement it in the city to help reduce air pollution. Improving air quality in Leeds is a huge priority for the council, and we are looking at a number of different initiatives to address the issue.”

“Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communication has the promise to transform how cities manage urban traffic control and air quality regulation,” said Paul Bate, Principal Technologist at the Transport Systems Catapult.

“Project ACCRA is a pioneering collaboration to explore the potential of geo-fencing technology that equips vehicles to anticipate and respond accordingly when approaching or driving inside a city’s Clean Air Zones.”

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