Rotterdam aims to be the most IoT-connected port on the planet

2 Feb 2018

Aerial view of container terminal in the Port of Rotterdam. Image: Aerovista Luchtfotografie/Shutterstock

This week in IoT, the Dutch city of Rotterdam stated its ambition to be the most IoT-connected port around, while Ford plans to build an autonomous police car.

It was a massive week for internet of things (IoT) technology in Ireland with the establishment of a €14.5m nationwide research programme to test connected sensors and systems in the country’s urban areas.

The project will see one of the largest collaborations of its kind between academia and industry, with dozens of companies contributing a total of €4.5m, including Intel, Huawei and SMEs such as Cork-based Accuflow.

Meanwhile, Kerry-based Dairymaster announced a €2m R&D partnership with IT Tralee and software research centre Lero to develop intelligent autonomous systems for farms, for the benefit of milk quality and animal health.

Staying in the south of the country, Cork IoT start-up Over-C announced the signing of two major European contracts worth an estimated €20m.

The new partnerships are with KPN, the largest Dutch telecoms company; and Facilicom Group, the largest Dutch facility management company, with contracts in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Rotterdam’s IoT masterplan with IBM and Cisco

Speaking of the Netherlands, the Port of Rotterdam – one of the busiest in the world – has announced plans to overhaul its operations with an IoT ecosystem of sensors. The aim is to help cargo move faster and manage the traffic that travels through it each day.

According to ZDNet, the authority will partner with IBM to gain access to its various technologies, in addition to using products from Cisco and Axians.

Among the key priorities are to create ‘digital dolphins’ – effectively, smart buoys – containing sensors that track the surrounding waters; and artificially intelligent sensors that use weather, water and communications data to manage ships’ waiting time.

It will also bring 3D-metal printing to the shipyards whereby sensors could detect when a ship needs a new part and print one on demand, reducing wait time.

The sensors are expected to be installed across the port’s 42km of quay walls, roads and mooring posts.

Ford patents an autonomous police car

Is it possible that in the future we could see cars being issued speeding tickets by autonomous police vehicles?

This bizarre, somewhat dystopian, scenario was suggested after it was discovered that Ford has patented a design for an autonomous police car.

According to Motor1, the car would patrol the streets on the lookout for another vehicle breaking the law, either through its own sensors or through communication with other sensors in the vicinity.

But where things get very interesting is that the car would be able to go after the vehicle and then issue a ticket by “remotely executing one or more actions with respect to the first vehicle”.

This means that the driver would be issued a ticket by the police car, once it verifies the identity.

While just a patent for now, it offers a potentially frightening future of law enforcement.

Deutsche Telekom making huge strides in NB-IoT

Deutsche Telekom is establishing itself as a world leader in narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) with plans to have the US covered by the middle of this year, and many European markets by the end of 2018.

The company has rolled out its NB-IoT sensor network to approximately 600 towns and cities across Germany since it was launched in June 2017, with more than 200 companies now trialling the technology through commercially available test packages.

“Deutsche Telekom’s aim is to deliver this exciting technology across Europe and the US as quickly as possible, both by making the NB-IoT sensor network available everywhere as well as actively driving the development of innovative NB-IoT solutions,” said Ingo Hofacker, who is responsible for the IoT business at Deutsche Telekom.

“The extensive availability of NB-IoT network coverage in 2018 beyond the initial city-led pilots we have seen last year lays the ground for NB-IoT solutions to be deployed not only locally, but also nationally and across borders.”

Adelaide gears up for A$1m sensor project

The south Australian city of Adelaide is getting a head start on the arrival of autonomous cars with the announcement of a A$1m sensor project with Cisco.

According to ZDNet, the smart city pilot programme will see six sensors installed at a busy intersection in the first phase to measure traffic rates. This will give a sense of how autonomous cars would work in the city, as well as help the city to manage traffic with standard cars for the time being.

“These sensors will gather intersection-approach traffic information, such as location and speed of vehicles as well as pedestrians. With this information, tailored algorithms to recommend traffic light intervals can be recommended to improve traffic and pedestrian-crossing flow,” Cisco said in a statement.

“The second phase involves an assessment of whether the same infrastructure can be applied to quickly and accurately determine the location and movements of autonomous vehicles, which is critical to being able to manage, direct and control autonomous vehicles.”

Aerial view of container terminal in the Port of Rotterdam. Image: Aerovista Luchtfotografie/Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic