A consortium formed of several automotive technology companies and Leeds City Council is developing a system that will automatically switch a vehicle’s engine to zero-emission running in heavily polluted areas.

The council has teamed with Cenex, Transport Systems Catapult, consultancy EarthSense, transport network systems developer Dynniq and Tevva Motors to launch Project Accra, which will use live air quality data to trigger electric hybrid engines to automatically switch to zero-emission running in urban areas.

Dynniq will develop a decision-making engine capable of receiving live air quality information and real-time traffic conditions. The information will be used to instruct vehicles to run on zero-emissions within a particular geographical area.

EarthSense will be responsible for monitoring and uploading local air quality information to the system.

The technology will be trialled in Leeds and will be tested on a hybrid vehicle interface developed by Tevva Motors.

The system will be evaluated by Cenex and Transport Systems Catapult, which will investigate how it could be scaled-up for wider use across Leeds and other potential clean air zones. Five clean air zones across the UK are expected to be in place by the end of 2019.

Steve Carroll, head of transport at Cenex said, “Local air quality is a persistent and growing problem in urban centres across the UK and globally. Using real-time air quality data to automatically instruct vehicles driving into high pollution areas to switch to zero-emissions driving, has the potential to transform urban transportation regulation and save thousands of lives.”

Simon Notley, technical lead for Dynniq, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to create an entirely new solution to the problem of air pollution and demonstrate the huge potential for innovation that is being unlocked by modern Intelligent Transport Systems. But most importantly it’s an opportunity to improve the quality of life of everyone living, working or travelling in cities around the world.”