Can the Industrial Metaverse drive safer road usage?


The Industrial Metaverse, which focuses on ways to use connected virtual systems and physical assets to derive critical insights for real life industrial processes, will alter the way we think about transportation, and has the huge potential of making road travel much safer.

5 min read

According to the 2020 UN resolution Decade of action for road safety 2021-2030 over 1.35 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured a year in road traffic collisions globally. Road safety is a key concern for policy makers across the world and this challenge is further exacerbated when human frailty as well as human fallacy are prime considerations. 

Could the application of metaverse technologies enable safer driving conditions to reduce the number of road related fatalities?  

The Industrial Metaverse, which focuses on ways to use connected virtual systems and real worlds to derive critical insights for real life industrial processes, will alter the way we think about transportation, particularly road travel. As the digital infrastructures which form its backbone, 5G and IoT connected devices become more commonplace and interconnected technologies advance, travelling by road will become increasingly effortless, more sustainable, efficient and critically, safer. Those who are stakeholders within the mobility sector have a great opportunity right now to leverage business value from these technologies by exploiting them to make driving safer. 

Technology that puts safety first

Currently, there are a number of automotive manufacturers who are leveraging metaverse technologies to enable more secure and safe driving conditions. 

New Mercedes Benz models now offer heads up display technology, similar to that used by fighter pilots in the cockpit, which shows digital information like GPS navigational directions, weather conditions and speed on the windshield enabling drivers to view relevant information whilst keeping their eyes on the road ahead. 

In a first for the European continent, the UK government has just approved hands-free self driving systems for use on its motorways. Ford’s BlueCruise system uses radars and cameras to track both road markings and the drivers movements to ensure they remain focused on the road.

Smarter journeys

Enhanced navigation systems will help drivers bypass traffic jams and find the most efficient routes for their journeys. Additionally, advances in wireless communication technology will make it easier for cars to communicate with each other, as well as with traffic control centres, to enable safer driving experiences. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to play a major role in road design and maintenance. AI algorithms can be used to analyse existing roads and plan for future improvements, such as widening lanes or adjusting speed limits. They can also provide valuable insights into how people use roads, allowing for more efficient and secure traffic management.

Gearing up for a solution  

As encouraging as these innovations are, we are still some way from the stage where we can have autonomous driverless vehicles (ADVs) which would greatly reduce, if not completely eradicate, the risk of human error. Challenges persist in terms of testing how they would operate in real life due to the complexity of different road environments from congested urban areas like the streets of New York to winding country lanes in Wiltshire to environmental factors like driving in heavy rainfall or on icy roads. 

How can the Industrial Metaverse can help to accelerate the process?

Through the use of high fidelity, complex and scalable digital twins — a key technology of the Industrial Metaverse — traffic networks within towns, cities, even continents can be represented in real time. Historical data and live information through 5G and IoT connected devices as well as weather conditions or current traffic patterns can all be layered on to provide an accurate overview. This digital twin can then be put through unlimited scenarios powered by simulations and AI, to understand how each part of the system is connected and to test different ‘what-if’ current or new scenarios in the virtual environment, free of risk and at low cost, to predict how situations would unfold and help planners reach the best courses of action to ensure road safety. The level of intelligence and critical insights that the Industrial Metaverse offers would enable the widespread, use of vehicles with data from each vehicle also being fed into the Industrial Metaverse network where the journeys can be monitored for safety in real time. 

e-Highways – the next phase towards a true Industrial Metaverse for road travel

A great example of what we are talking about in terms of an Industrial Metaverse for road travel is the project Hadean is working on in collaboration with the Connected Places Catapult UK to develop a e-Highways simulation powered digital twin. The aim of the project is to create a high-fidelity, scalable simulation that will encompass a large number of different traffic entities as well as the multitude of factors affecting road networks in order to ascertain the optimal locations for e-Highways. These e-Highways are intended to be used by eHGVs, running along overhead cables much in the same way as electric trains do, as a safer and more sustainable solution to freight and logistics movement. The e-Highway digital twin will amalgamate real, historic and live data and will be put under various stress-testing simulated scenarios, to obtain critical insights. This will enable stakeholders to make the most informed and risk-free decision before any live work goes ahead. 

Driving in to the future 

Overall, it’s clear that the Industrial Metaverse is en route to revolutionise the way we travel. Autonomous electric cars, smarter roads and real-time updates through persistent and reliable connectivity are just some of the many ways that its technologies could drastically improve road travel for both drivers and pedestrians alike. From increased safety to more efficient routes, these technologies won’t just change how we get from A to B, they will influence and transform the way we plan and build roads. With these advancements, it’s easy to envision a future where road travel is safer, environmentally friendly and more enjoyable than has been possible before.