The use of Autonomous Vehicles in public transport has the potential to revolutionise the complete landscape of public transport, affecting at the same time all aspects of urban and sub-urban living, from daily living to urban development and to social planning. However, in order to unleash this potential, from one side, new, disruptive public transport services need to be proposed and implemented, creating a new urban experience for the users, and from the other side, the legislative and regulatory frameworks of the different countries and regions need to be adapted accordingly. AVENUE scope and identity, as summarised below, serve both abovementioned change directions:
Overview of AVENUE Scope and Identity:
- Application field : Urban transport automation; public transport
- Mode of transport : Electric mini-buses of different sizes (15 seats model plus at least one more)
- Targeted areas : Urban areas of: low or medium demand, medium or weak accessibility
- Vehicles setup : Fleets of mini-buses; At least 4 per city demonstrator
- Target users : All, Of specific interest: elderly, people with disabilities/ Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM), vulnerable users
- Demonstration locations : 4 city demonstrators already operating 1 mini-bus (project partners to run full scale demonstrations) plus 3 more as city replicators (to be selected through open call during the project implementation to replicate AVENUE services)
- Project duration : 48 months (4 years)
- Duration of demonstrations : Starting roll-out from day 1; full scale deployment 24 months
- Technologies employed : Data fusion; data & visual analytics; I2V, V2I, V2V communication, IoT
- Services to be provided & improvements : In-vehicle, out-of-vehicle, in/out. Increase road safety, vehicle speed & distances ser-ved; improve service quality & value added
- Ultimate goal : To pave the way for full scale introduction of disruptive door2door services and ‘Mobility Cloud’ strategies
In relation to the above, the AVENUE goals are:
- to demonstrate the advantages of the use of autonomous vehicles in urban and sub-urban shared transport,
- evaluate the cost-benefits, socio-economic and environmental impacts of the use of autonomous shared public transport vehicles under different public transport models,
- to assess the safety and reliability of the autonomous shared public transport vehicles for users, and last, but not least,
- propose a roadmap and business plans for the large scale adoption and deployment of autonomous vehicles for public transport.
These goals will be achieved with the design, development and evaluation, via large scale pilots and demonstrators, of new innovative public transport services based on autonomous vehicles in urban and sub-urban environments. The transport services will be fully integrated into existing public transport services, with security and safety being the cornerstone of the demonstrators.
The duration of the project will be 48 months and we will run shared public service transport via autonomous vehicles with different configurations from day one of the project and for the complete duration of the project, experimenting with new services, evaluating methods for safe and high quality road behaviour response and studying the socio-economic and environmental impacts of autonomous vehicles shared public transport.
The vision behind the project is to develop and demonstrate economically and environmentally viable, highly personalised, safe and secure transport services, where the autonomous vehicle services (like itinerary, time table etc.) are dynamically adapted to the individual user needs and are integrated into the public transport eco-system of the cities. We dream of public transport services where there will be no time tables and no predefined destinations, with tenths of mini, medium and large shared autonomous vehicles roaming the city in a seemingly random way, picking up and dropping off passengers anywhere and at any time, but which in reality will be highly coordinated by sophisticated itinerary optimisation algorithms. With the use of mobile technologies and cloud IT services, passengers will define their needs for a ride, and based on nearby vehicle availability, current vehicle itinerary, vehicle load, and other announced (or anticipated!) passenger needs, (and possibly on the acceptable price!), the vehicle itinerary will be modified to pick up the passenger from the requested point and drop them off at their destination or at an acceptable nearby point. All this in full coordination and use of other existing transport means, so that we can offer the passenger the optimal way for his travel needs.
It is clear that before reaching this (very!) long-term vision, we will pass a long period where autonomous vehicles will co-exist with “traditional” vehicles, where passengers will have doubts regarding the safety and efficiency of autonomous vehicles, where different citizen groups will oppose the autonomy of vehicles for economic or other reasons (fears of job loss, changes in urban planning, safety considerations etc.) and where the use of the supporting IT services will not be optimal for all citizens. The project aims in providing a roadmap for the introduction of autonomous public transport vehicles, providing at the same time convincing replies to the fears the citizens and public authorities.
Demonstration in AVENUE: To be noted, NAVYA runs pilot testing of mini-buses in several cities worldwide (Europe, United States, Asia, Australia), and the selected 4 full scale demonstrators (Geneva, Lyon, Copenhagen and Luxembourg) will be integrated in the project from day one, while other cities (Replicators) will be selected and integrated at the end of the second year, based on the maturity of the sites. To this end, the consortium is already in contact with several public transport operators and city authorities in different European cities, (Spain, UK, Greece, Croatia, Germany etc.) which have already provided the AVENUE consortium with Letter of Supports . The replication cities will be selected among these cities, as well as other cities that will express their interest and submit the corresponding applications during the project implementation (an open call procedure will be followed). Although the pilots will utilise small and large vehicles by NAVYA for practical reasons, AVENUE’s final solution will follow open standards and be vehicle agnostic and support various brands and types of vehicles if later included in the project. For ensure high quality integration and support of the technology, the choice was made to focus in the pilots mainly on the NAVYA technology which is already validated and deployed in various cities.
AVENUE perspective: For the all the above reasons the project will approach the problem from eight (8) different angles:
- Autonomous vehicle road behavior
- Smart city infrastructure for I2V &V2I communication for improved on road safety
- Transport services
- In-Vehicle Services
- Out-of Vehicle Services
- Socio-economic impacts
- Security, Safety and Ethical issues