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It must be a boy thing. I like high-speed cars as much as I like high-speed trains. I love looking at the extraordinary, beautiful cars in a Ferrari showroom and dreaming about driving them like Lewis Hamilton around Italian mountain passes.But life isn’t like that. Driving mostly seems to involve crawling around crowded town centres, full of buses and taxis and delivery vehicles and children haphazardly crossing the road on the way to school. Or trying not to switch off completely as you enter the nineteenth consecutive mile of roadworks on the M1 on cruise control. In a Ford S-Max. With two children in the back asking “are we nearly there yet?” while trying to inflict mortal damage on each other.”Which is why I find it astonishing that when I start to wax lyrical about a future of autonomous vehicles so many of those I talk to seem to think it sounds as socially unacceptable as inviting bids to look after your children on Ebay. According to a recent YouGov survey 46% of UK adults would be prepared to travel in an autonomous vehicle but 39% have yet to be convinced. I get told that driving is an icon of the human attainment of freedom, and therefore to hand over the wheel to a computer is to reduce us back to slavery. And then I get told that the computer either of its own coding error or cyber-attack will cause a multiple car pile up on the M6. As if that doesn’t happen already by the incompetence of humans.Autonomous vehicles offer potentially huge benefits in terms of safety, environmental impact and mobility for the disabled and elderlyIn December Arup produced The Future of Highways, a wonderful booklet capturing a series of case studies of how technology could transform the experience of transport on our roads. I read the case studies to my children, Pippa and Tom, and found them far more open to this future than many adults. They seem to think that being able to summon a car that will drive itself to your door in the morning and take you wherever you want to go while you read Asterix is a better use of life than having your hands on the wheel and your eyes glued to the bumper ahead for two hours each day.And autonomous vehicles offer potentially huge benefits in terms of safety, environmental impact and mobility for the disabled and elderly.So let us assume that the pace of technology and the economic and lifestyle benefits lead us in short order towards a world of autonomous vehicles. What does that mean for the construction industry?First and most obviously it has potential impact on the demand for road building. There is a fervent debate about how much capacity benefit may accrue from cars which can be convoyed at a fixed distance from each other on our motorways, but it seems likely that there should be some significant improvement particularly with smarter junction control. The nature of road surfaces may change, for example to embed induction charging or solar panels. And road surfaces should presumably wear more slowly and evenly when the braking, acceleration and positioning of vehicles on the road can be controlled.Second, it opens up interesting opportunities in the logistics of the industry. Autonomous vehicles will not only move people but also goods, and with much more reliable schedules, so just-in-time delivery of materials can become a science, not an art. And plant and machinery can be booked to attend on site in the same way as the car which takes you there in the morning, automatically returning to the hire company when they have finished the task.Third, it might change quite radically the way in which certain infrastructure is built and maintained. Autonomous vehicles can carry out tasks, from road and track laying to verge and hedge cutting. The levels of data which flow back to Highways England will become immense and the ability to analyse and plan interventions from that data will become key to driving best value in the use of taxpayers’ money.I can imagine some will say this is all too far off to worry about today. But it’s not that far off. Nearly all the technology for driverless vehicles already exists. The Department for Transport recently produced a significant report “The Pathway to Driverless Vehicles” (presumably after endless debate as to how to avoid calling it “The Road to…”) and have undertaken to create the frameworks to allow driverless vehicles to be tested on our streets – now. Separately, transport consultant David Quarmby is leading a report into how that might impact the road network.For me, none of this can happen soon enough. I like driving cars, but not as much as a I like the thought of a world in which I can go anywhere without driving one.Richard Threlfall is head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG
The inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang FIM EWC (Endurance World Championship) concluded with YART Yamaha taking home the win at a very wet and drama-filled race. After a long delay which saw the race cut down to less than half, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) managed to extend their EWC championship lead up to 15 points (79 points total) in the second race of the series with a P5 finish.The shortened race which was restarted only at 6 pm on Saturday saw riders and teams scrambling to get everything in order as the rain finally slowed down enough for conditions to be deemed ‘safe for racing’. The SERT squad and their three riders, Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson, and Gregg Black, charged from P11 up to P5 to secure valuable points to continue their championship lead in the still very tricky conditions.Due to time constraints, difficult riding conditions, and revised team strategies to get the best results by 9 pm, Gregg Black started the race and clocked an impressive pace to get his Suzuki GSX-R1000 up to P5. The bike was then passed to Masson where he maintained the position before crossing the chequered flag after 79 laps and three pit-stops.According to Damien Saulnier, SERT’s Team Manager, “When you are not on the top step of the podium you always wish you had a better place, but for this race with tricky conditions, our goal was a Top-5 and the job has been done. I am satisfied with the work we’ve done during the week while being aware that there is still some more work to do. The team keeps on growing up and everyone works hard. We are also very pleased with Yoshimura’s engineers’ support.”“I would also like to thank the organiser for this amazing event. Bringing 38 European teams to Malaysia was not an easy task! And last but not least, I would like to say a word for Vincent Philippe, who didn’t race today because of the circumstances. He is a very professional man and I had great confidence in him. I am filled with emotion, but also proud to have been able to work with this remarkable rider,” added Saulnier.It’s an amazing result for Suzuki and it’ll be quite a show going to the next round at Le Mans in April. With SERT being a French-based outfit, it’ll be an advantage not only with a championship lead but also an added home advantage. The 24 Heures Motos 2020 at the famous Bugatti Circuit will commence from 18-19 April 2020.BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team currently sits in second of the championship series with 64 points while Wójcik Racing Team (Yamaha) remains in third with 48 points despite not being able to secure any points at Sepang this past weekend.Image credit: FIM EWCEXCLUSIVE: Inside the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team at the 8 Hours of Sepang FIM EWC Race–Ads–
By Aneeka Simonis PAKENHAM first Sudanese community group is expected to form in the next coming days – a strategy…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.
By Kyra Gillespie A unique performance by internationally acclaimed local musicians is coming to Bunjil Place. The Casey Chamber Musicians…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.