While a number of private-sector companies are working to re-invent urban mobility, government organisations and universities will also have a considerable say in the future of the Smart City. Nowadays, university campuses can serve as very useful laboratories. For example, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) at Huntsville in the United States is planning to purchase and deploy zero-emissions electric buses. Now, in recognition of the quality of AAMU's teaching, especially in maths, sciences and technical subjects, plus its focus on renewable energies, Toyota Motor North America has chosen the university to take part in a collaborative project on future modes of transport called Clean Low Emissions Approach & Novel Transportation Innovation Practice (CLEAN-TRIP), which the Japan-based carmaker is sponsoring. Toyota is providing an initial grant of $300,000 to fund the initiative, which includes scholarships for students accepted into the programme. In addition to receiving funding support, students on the CLEAN-TRIP project will have the opportunity to work directly with Toyota, thus benefiting from hands-on training in design and engineering. They will collaborate with community residents in order to better understand their mobility challenges and then be tasked to design, prototype and implement an environmentally-friendly, inclusive and practical pilot programme. The project, which is due to kick off in autumn this year, is one of a series of planned initiatives to be run by Toyota, including a number of collaborative sustainable mobility projects with universities. The automobile manufacturer, which operates 14 plants in North America and sold just under 2.5 million cars and trucks in the United States in 2017, is thus already giving the next generation a chance to decide what is to be done to ensure that people can get around in future years in a manner that will cause less harm to our planet.
By Marie-Eléonore Noiré