1 November 2013

Stimulating sustainable vehicle lecture kicks off Open Lecture Series

Stimulating sustainable vehicle lecture kicks off Open Lecture Series

The Oxford Brookes Open Lecture Series started with a bang this October with a challenging open research debate on the future of personal mobility.

Allan Hutchinson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oxford Brookes and Head of the Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre, presented an evening lecture in which he challenged some of the accepted notions of personal mobility in the 21st Century. The event, titled The Future of Personal Mobility, gave a global overview on the topic of transport. The panel included Dr Marco Raugei (Postdoctoral Research Assistant) Denise Morrey (Professor of Mechanical Engineering), Jim Campbell (Commercial Adviser for the Faculty of Technology, Design & Environment and Industry Link Specialist) and Dr Peter Headicar (Reader in Transport Planning).

The purpose of the event was to engage the audience on the subject of personal mobility, and discuss how it might be affected in the future. Alarming statistics show that the total of land transport miles travelled in the UK in 2010 was around 500 million, double that of 1970. Greenhouse gas emissions from domestic transport account for 25% of UK total emissions. The number of cars has increased by one third since the mid-1990s, and worryingly the car now accounts for 64% of land-based trips. The main question arising from this is how trends of mobility will be affected by technology, government, urbanisation, sustainability and energy into the future.

Professor Allan Hutchinson remarked:
"Our answer to these worrying statistics has been a 33% increase in car ownership since the mid-1990s. Out on the fringes of society are all manner of low carbon transport initiatives crying out to be adopted, but a revving petrol engine is seemingly drowning out all of them".

The panel debated a variety of topics concerning personal mobility, including energy, urbanisation, electric vehicles, the changing role of motorsports, and perhaps most importantly, how to win hearts and minds of the public in changing to low carbon transport. The discussion was followed by inviting questions from the audience, who said of the event that "it was very informative and stimulating" and they were "surprised at how much energy is required to move anything".

The event also provided a stimulating learning experience for students at Oxford Brookes. Edward Hogg and Graham Ayris, Oxford Brookes Mechanical Engineering students and members of the Oxford Brookes Racing electric Formula Student team, said:
"It was really useful for us to see the academics that teach the Motorsport and Mechanical Engineering courses at Brookes in a research capacity. The debate had a lot of conflicting views, which was very stimulating for us to take part in".

Matt Widgery, PR & Events Manager for The Electric Transport Shop in Oxford, also attended the event and got several members of the panel to trial an electric bike after the discussion. When asked why he was so keen to attend the lecture, he said:
"Brookes and The Electric Transport Shop have long enjoyed a diverse and fruitful relationship. While on the one hand we can count both professors and students amongst our oldest and best customers, we have also been involved with a whole host of events either organised by Brookes, or attended by them. We even looked at creating an electric system for the famous bamboo bike, a machine I always enjoy seeing at shows."

"But it was not just the chance to cement a great partnership that brought me to Oxford for the lecture last month. The future of urban transport is wholly dependent on the public, private and research sectors all supporting its development, so as a key player in the electric bicycle market it is vital that we participate in these forums. The industry we're in goes way beyond selling some nice bikes. It's about creating a societal change that can cure what ails our urban spaces. The lecturers present are at the cutting edge of that change and we wanted to lend our voice and experience to the discussions from the perspective of an award winning manufacturer and retailer of these products. After all, our in-house brand Smarta is currently the Electric Bike World Champion of 2013! We certainly hope everyone enjoyed riding the electric bike afterwards and we are looking forward to some exciting future projects already planned with some of the panel."