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Filipino scientists, engineers show what they’ve been up to at technology week display in Pasay City

Along with innovations in the various fields of science and technology, electric vehicle (EV) technologies developed by the country’s scientists and engineers also took centerstage at the National Science and Technology Week 2019 (NSTW) held July 17 to 21 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City.

Among these EVs was the smart e-trike and its fast-charger CharM, which can fully charge the e-trike in just 30 minutes. According to the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), the number of EVs in the Philippines is steadily increasing, with support from different government and non-government organizations. The drawback, however, is the expensive imported rapid vehicle chargers that could drastically cut the normal 6 to 8-hour charging time of e-trikes. When plugged in to CharM, the e-trike’s battery management system can monitor the voltage and temperature of the battery, ensuring charging security and safety.

The e-trike making the rounds at the exhibit
The CharM fast-charger for the e-trik

The e-trikes are part of the IntElecT (Intelligent Electric Transportation Network Program which envisions a smart network of energy-aware EVs and charging stations. It also seeks to create an optimized energy management system, which can be achieved through a coordinated schedule of vehicles, routes taken, when and where to charge, and charging time. Last June 28, 20 of these e-trikes were turned over by the Department of Energy (DOE) to DOST.

These e-trikes will then be equipped with features to make them “intelligent”, and make them communicate their location, number of passengers, and advise their drivers of the nearest charging stations and other pertinent trip information. The University of the Philippines-Diliman would be researching the optimization of the energy management system under the IntElecT program. The university would collect the data and come up with an intelligent transport system (ITS) data center and a working model for the e-trikes’ ITS data center for deployment to trike fleet operators.

Another highlight of the NSTW 2019 was the Modification of Road Train Energy Storage System. The project aims to modify the energy storage system of the light road train to decrease its weight, improve acceleration, safety, energy recovery, and power sharing capabilities.

More hybrid systems projects like the hybrid train and hybrid buses are expected to be launched by the DOST.

Other DOST-PCIEERD funded projects shown during the NSTW was the CATCH-ALL (Contactless Apprehension of Traffic Violators), an integration of vision and machine learning systems that offer better performance in visual monitoring, recording, and evidence gathering tasks. A group of researchers from the De La Salle University (DLSU) has been developing software to help authorities identify traffic violators more quickly and efficiently.

CATCH-ALL is a 24-hour All-Vehicle Detection System, a software that can detect, track, and profile vehicles and recognize license plates. It can also detect traffic breaches such as number coding violation, beating the red light, and unlawful lane changing.

According to Dr. Elmer P. Dadios, DLSU professor and project leader, CATCH-ALL is an automated system on a real-time basis through cameras installed on the streets. The closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) software for real-time monitoring of traffic situation.

“Our ultimate goal is to allow CATCH-ALL to be tied into the database of the Land Transportation Office (LTO). With this, we can come up finally with a no-contact apprehension and penalty sanctions to the violators,” Dadios explained.

The research and development of CATCH-ALL was funded by DOST-PCIEERD with a P3.5-million grant.

The UP BikeShare was also highlighted at the NSTW 2019. The project aims to develop a sustainable 4th generation bike sharing system in UP Diliman, which will provide an alternative mode of public transportation that is more efficient, greener and healthier for its users. To build a successful bike sharing system in UP Diliman, the necessary technology must be integrated into the UP community. The wireless tracking software engineering, and manufacturing research will address security, data analytics and user mapping. Community integration will be done through consultations and aligning with the goals and principles of stakeholders. Marketing strategies such as seminars, public fora and events will also promote bicycling in UP Diliman. At the end of the project, a cost effective, easily implementable and easily scalable bike sharing system that will promote a healthier and greener alternative to public transportation would have been developed.

Three months ago, DOST unveiled innovative solutions to the country’s mass transport system in the department’s third Technology Media Conference (TMC). Last May 6, the Hybrid Electric Train (HET) made its first public run between the Alabang, Muntinlupa City and Calamba, Laguna stations. The fully air-conditioned train—with five coaches—has a maximum capacity of up to 880 passengers and can run up to 80 kph. The actual operating speed, however, was limited to about 40 kph because of the railway conditions.

Along with the inaugural run, DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” dela Pena also presented the department’s other mass transportation solutions in the pipeline, which includes the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) and the Hybrid Electric Road Train (HERT).

These three train systems are aimed to provide alternatives to the commuting public and help solve vehicular congestion in Metro Manila and its suburbs. Dela Pena said that these transport solutions intend to address volume and behavior-based traffic congestion, overloading, road pollution, dependence on expensive foreign technology, insufficient mass transportation systems, limited capability to maintain existing systems, lack of local industry for mass transport, and the P3.5-billion economic loss.

De la Pena also said that the AGT, the HET, and the HERT (currently on test runs in Isabela province) are DOST’s mass transport projects that can already be implemented. The locally fabricated AGT is designed to lessen travel time and promote an environment-friendly mass transit. Cheaper to make and operate than its imported counterparts like the LRT and the MRT, the AGT also has slimmer dimensions and can be built along narrow streets. The AGT costs just one-fifth for capital expenditure and maintenance of imported trains, and local engineers can troubleshoot these Pinoy-made trains.

In addition, De la Pena also highlighted new transport projects that the department has supported, including the Local Traffic Simulator or LocalSim, a traffic simulation software that is designed to be used by road and traffic engineers as a decision support system for effective traffic management, and the Detection and Identification of Legitimate Public Utility Vehicles (DILAW), a system made up of devices that easily determine colorum vehicles.

The DOST-PCIEERD has also supported startups that have products and services that are also mass transport solutions. The Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise Inc (FAME) has developed transponders for aircrafts, vessels, and vehicles for cost-effective monitoring and tracking. Rurok Industries is an innovative bike company that aims to deliver engineered, versatile bikes that contain highly efficient suspension systems to adapt to different terrains.

Another innovation displayed at the NSTW 2019 was the P15-million mobile classroom laboratory bus called NULab of the DOST’s Science Education Institute. The NULab bus, parked in front of the WTC grounds, will next roll onto the provinces (even the island provinces) and give senior high-school students a glimpse of the nanotech, aerospace, robotics, and oceanographic tech. The experience will hopefully encourage them to apply for DOST scholarships in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The NULab is equipped with an interactive smart board and several monitors. The modules were designed by a team made up of an astrophysicist, marine biologist, entomologist, and an engineer. The bus can accommodate 24 students in one session and can hold two sessions per day.

The P15-million NULab Bus parked at WTCMM – National Science and Technology Week 2019 (NSTW)
Inside the NULab Bus – National Science and Technology Week 2019 (NSTW)