An Internet of Cars

Chris Speed, D Shingleton, T Cherrett

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Despite describing the transport infrastructure as a ‘network’, most road and transport users see little similarity between the ‘transport network’ and the internet. This paper suggests that overcoming this difference is key to a new paradigm of transport in which connections, flow and sharing are synonymous with both social networking and travel behaviour.
In order to demonstrate the potentials, this paper presents an experimental platform that combines data gathered from Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and a smart phone application that allows participants to use cars as a form of internet. The speculative platform that is being developing for a tourism community in the South of England, is a creative approach to conceiving cars as data packets through the use of their license registration plate and offering a playful platform that allows users to engage with them as though they were part of social media. The paper introduces the concept of the Internet of Things and the technical and cultural shift that is anticipated as society moves to a ubiquitous form of computing in which every device is ‘on’, and every device is connected in some way to the internet. Using a substantial database of vehicle registration plates collected from the ROMANSE traffic control system in Southampton, It also investigates to what extent ‘regular returners’ make up the flow of vehicles in a network as opposed to one-off unique vehicles and the wider potential for some vehicles to become ‘information carriers’ due to their habitual behaviour.

The specific reference to ‘things’ refers to the concept that every new object manufactured will also be able to be part of this extended Internet, because they will have been tagged and indexed by the manufacturer during production. It also envisages that consumers will have the ability to ‘read’ the tags through the use of mobile ‘readers’ and use the information connected to the object, to inform their purchase, use and dispose of that object.

This paper introduces the background to the idea, the nature and location of technologies involved, the scale of data that we are processing, and feedback from participants involved in preliminary studies. The paper proposes that by adopting the ‘habits’ that consumers are currently developing to scan shopping items to access network data, the barrier between conceiving the transport network as a network comparable to social media may be overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Event45th Annual UTSG Conference - Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jan 20134 Jan 2013


Conference45th Annual UTSG Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'An Internet of Cars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this