Saturday, 24 July 2010
Where technology is taking us
Two good trips this week - Friday was Farnborough Air Show courtesy BAe Systems and some really good discussions about how the continued technology developments are being made ready to spin off into other forms of transport and communication.
BAE Systems, as you may know, makes the clever part of the hybrid drive on ADL products. ADL now has two dedicated production lines for hybrid vehicles. BAe Systems powers the world's largest hybrid bus fleet with vehicles in New York, Houston, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto and London.
But the real interest has to be in the outstanding things now being developed for military applications which will, in due course find their way onto buses and other vehicles. In particular we can expect buses with their own processing power - not the multiple devices we have now sometimes each with their own SIM card. Ticket machines, engine monitoring, climate control, GPS, Real Time Information, diagnostics all controlled centrally. And vehicles monitoring their own performance, communicating with base and receiving remedies. It's being used now on aircraft.
In addition transportation machinery needs holes - for sensors, wiring, lighting and so on. Each one a source of trouble - a cost to create them, maintain them, a source of corrosion and stress. Well on submarines that is a real problem so now there is technology which uses the exterior skin of the vehicle as the conduit for electrical information. A bit like the wireless charger for your mobile phone, soon all this will take place using the skin of the vehicle itself.
Earlier in the week I was at FGRN in Germany for our periodic Board Meeting and this is a good time to mention that our good friends across at Buses Worldwide are doing a feature in their next magazine on our German operations. FGRN has grown by some 50% in the past couple of years and now has operations from several locations. Take a trip over to http://www.busesworldwide.org/ to see their website and if you join you'll be getting the magazine on a regular basis.
In 2006 we were providing the ground transportation at Farnborough and we had an opportunity to have a photoshoot with the then new Airbus A380 and our latest offering, the ftr. In the end the Airbus people cancelled it but the plane is so big we got our vehicle under its wing anyway as it was overhanging the fence by a long way!