The support of the Informatics Research Initiative of Enterprise
Ireland is gratefully acknowledged.
Each year, road freight transport
accounts for over 1 billion tonne-kilometres in the EU territory.
In the US, over 7 million commercial trucks drive a total
of 0.2 trillion miles per annum. The global market for express
goods is now in excess of USD 25bn. Despite the scale of the
international logistics industry, significant market inefficiencies
contribute to high economic, social and environmental costs.
For example, up to 27% of all road haulage travel is for 'empty
running' and the average lading factor (that is, capacity
utilisation) is only 60%. Technological innovation arising
from the convergence of computing, communications and satellite-based
positioning technologies now offers significant opportunities
for the creation of market efficiencies in the road freight
sector, as well as creating new ICT product opportunities
in the extended enterprise sector.
This project integrates the
capabilities of mobile intelligent agents, AI-based optimisation,
GPS positioning and time-stamping, and distributed object
technology to develop a prototype system for the real-time
brokerage and co-ordination of 'on-the-move' road freight
carriers. The prototype V-LAB product should equally find
application in the management of metropolitan courier services.
The project aims to develop the underlying computing techniques,
architecture and algorithms, prototype design and pilot implementation,
and will evaluate the system in bench simulation and field
While there is no current defined
market for the V-LAB product/concept, a number of reliable
indicators of market development are available, as well as
a robust economic case. This product addresses a very clear
inefficiency in the operation of road freight haulage - the
problem of moving empty or partially loaded trucks. In Europe,
a 10% effective increase in capacity would mean a reduction
of about 100 million tonne-kilometre journeys and savings
of over 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
The solution of this problem
would give rise to very large and quantifiable benefits for
individual fleet operators and for the economy as a whole.
Given the dependence of the Irish economy on the movement
of goods by road for both internal and international trade,
deployment of this product would yield a significant economic
benefit. However, should commercial development of V-LAB prove
successful, the product market would undoubtedly be global.
A recent stock analysis report
from US Bancorp calculates the annual US spend on logistics
at USD 900bn, or 9.9% of GDP. This report is very clear in
its recommendations for the logistics software market and,
in particular, highlights the opportunity for increased capacity
utilisation through the deployment of Internet-based solutions.
Recent forecasts by ResearchPortal.com suggest a quadrupling
of in-vehicle devices by the year 2005 to a worldwide level
of 10 million units, while the demand for Data Centric Small
Form devices should reach 150 million by 2005. Estimates of
the size of the agent technology market worldwide have been
put at about USD 3.5bn.
G. Lyons and J. Duggan.
Stream Enhancements for the CORBA Event Service -
Proceedings of the ACM Multimedia (SIGMM) Conference 2001,
Ottawa, October 2001 - EXAMPLE - EXAMPLE - EXAMPLE