Published: February 16, 2015 | Brussels, Belgium
CityMobil2 is setting up a pilot platform for automated road transport systems, which will be implemented in several urban environments across Europe. This highly ambitious but low-key project from the European Union could have implications for autonomous transportation projects worldwide.
CityMobil2 is designed to supplement existing public transit systems, offering collective, semi-collective and personal on-demand shuttle services. Its cybercars offer a ride-to-the-ride where demand is low or pick-up points far apart, getting consumers to the nearest mass transit or bus station where they will transfer for the next leg of the journey.
There are already several multi-month, on-road tests in smaller and larger locales that are being coordinated by the Centre for Transport and Logistics at the University La Sapienza in Rome.
The goal in the near term is learn how the autonomous vehicles interact with other road users, and to develop the technical specifications and communications architecture for automated road transport systems. This in turn will help the Eurozone develop a legal framework for certifying automated road transport systems across the continent. The EU announced in 2014 a budget of $10.7 million (9.5 million Euro) for the project.
For the road tests, the CityMobil2 image is a cute, bug-like vehicle, called a Cybercar, one of those glass bulbs with no front or back. (No phallic Corvette Stingrays for this project.) Cybercars operate autonomously using obstacle-avoidance technology on the existing roadways among vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians.
The three major cybercar providers for the CityMobile2 project are:
- Netherlands-based 2getthere markets and develops Automated People Mover Systems for personal and group transportation;
- French Robosoft provides operational robotic solutions in various areas, including transport of goods and people; Robosoft was involved with the first CityMobil project in Rome;
- France’s EasyMile designs, manufactures and markets autonomous ground transportation vehicles; it’s a joint venture of RobotSoft’s parent and Ligier Group.
Last fall, CityMobil2 began operating in the larger La Rochelle, a French coastal town. That six-month demo is scheduled to culminate in a series of events on March 30-31, including a workshop on the socio-economic impact of road transport automation.
The next large on-road demonstration will start in May at the 2015 Expo in Milan, Italy. CityMobil2 is also holding public awareness campaigns in the test cities to promote the project and its possible benefits.
While the tests go on, CityMobil2 is conducting a socio-economic study that considers the future of various cyber-mobility alternatives in Europe up to the year 2050.
Note: CityMobil2 is a multi-stakeholder project co-funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (commonly known as FP7). CityMobil2 started in September 2012 and will run for 4 years and has 45 partners drawn from system suppliers, city authorities (and local partners), the research community and networking organisations.