The Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Lab (SSML) was recently featured in the September 2015 edition of the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) Magazine Civil Engineering. This article features extracts from the magazine.
Traffic gridlock in Stellenbosch has become a common sight, largely owing to the town being an intense trip attractor due to the high number of destinations in the town, including Stellenbosch University, good schools, a bustling central business core and tourist appeal. All routes into Stellenbosch are severely congested during the morning with reverse congestion conditions in the afternoon. The result is significant delay and adverse environmental impact. These are some of the issues that the Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Laboratory (SSML), established in Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Engineering in June 2014, aims to address while fulfilling its vision to provide a platform for the development of innovative and cost-effective transportation solutions for application in developing countries.
The SSML article in the SAICE Magazine considered the role of an academic facility such as the SSML in the research and development of new technology and data processing in engineering, particularly in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The educational benefit of such a facility was considered, and the importance of interaction between industry and academia is discussed.
The Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Laboratory's core objective is to provide a platform for the research and development of technology solutions that promote sustainable and safe mobility, specifically in developing countries. The SSML emphasises three main principles to achieve this objective:
- Encourage interaction between industry and academia
- Promote multidisciplinary research
- Test mobility solutions in real-world applications, specifically for developing countries.
The formation of the SSML has allowed Stellenbosch University to incorporate state-of-the-art ITS applications into the undergraduate Transport Science curriculum, and allows specialisation in ITS at a postgraduate level through specific research projects.
At a postgraduate level, the SSML is positioned to expose students to actual ITS projects and research needs through its partnerships with industry. The SSML considers it vital for students to gain experience of industry during the postgraduate programme, thereby improving the work-readiness of graduates.