Learned Readers are undoubtedly familiar with Design-Driven Innovation, but I’m afraid I hadn’t come across it until I read a conference paper: S McCartan, P Murphy, R Starkel, A Sánchez González and M López Cabeceira “Design-Driven Innovation: Sustainable Transport Opportunities for the Inland Waterways of Ireland”, read at the fifth annual conference of the Irish Transportation Research Network at the University of Limerick from 3 to 5 September 2014.
The paper [PDF] can be downloaded free from Sean McCartan’s page on the academia.edu site, though you have to be registered with the site; the paper is also available, I think, from researchgate.net, but I’m not registered there so I haven’t tried the download.
As I understand it — and I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Long Words Bother me — Design-Driven Innovation means that a lot of clever chaps and chapesses come up with new and brilliant ideas and then ask people what they think of them:
The process of Design-Driven Innovation is an exploratory research project, which aims to create an entirely new market sector for a given product through changing the design meaning the user has for the product.
It seems that, in Ireland, 99.1% of freight travels by road, leaving just 0.9% for rail; 82.8% of passenger traffic is by car and 14.4% by bus and coach, leaving just 2.8% by rail. Waterways transport could use existing ports and canals; once the canals had the right bridges and automatic locks, running costs would be low. West coast ports could be used by a “coastal cruiser service”; people could travel by fast boat from Donegal right around the west and south coasts to Rosslare. All of this would reduce the carbon dioxide footprint (assuming, of course, that folk on the west coast wanted to travel, or needed to send goods, to anywhere else on the west coast rather than to Dublin).
On the inland waterways, 139 catamaran CLF vessels (Cruise Logistics Ferries) could run from Belleek to Tralee. Travelling at 22 knots, and ignoring lock times, they would complete the journey in only 10 hours; they could carry freight but also carry passengers in green luxury. These CLFs would be 81 metres long and 25 metres wide; each could carry 20 TEUs. At sea, 26 high-speed (40-knot) CLFs could each transport 12 TEUs from Cork to Dublin in just under four hours. And solar-powered catamarans on the Shannon and Erne could carry 64 passengers at 12 knots.
Meanwhile, the Grand, Barrow and Royal would not be forgotten. They would have a fleet of 1549 unmanned canal catamarans, with autonomous control systems, powered either by batteries or by fuel cells, ultimately fed from wind farms. They would each carry two TEUs but could also be converted for tourist cruising.
The overall aim, with those numbers of boats, is to replace half of the amount carried by road.
The paper concludes:
This is a first step in the analysis of the potential of the coastal and inland waterways of Ireland, to meet the EU targets for transport. State aid has been identified as a potential funding mechanism to support the realisation of these proposals.
Sometimes I wonder.