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Autonomous Vehicles to Evolve to a New Urban Experience

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AVENUE (Autonomous Vehicles to Evolve to a New Urban Experience)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2019-11-01 do 2021-04-30

No timetables. No fixed stops. The AVENUE H2020 project is designing and operating world-first trials of public transport services with small fleets of autonomous electric buses that collect users on-demand, provide door-to-door transportation and are integrated with existing public transportation services. The use of autonomous vehicles in public transportation provides a less costly, greener solution for suburban areas, where conventional public transportation services are not viable and, therefore, not offered.
The project’s objectives are to demonstrate that autonomous buses are a promising solution for public transportation in urban and suburban environments, to identify the barriers and obstacles in the deployment of autonomous vehicles in shared public transportation, to propose and validate new, innovative and disruptive transport services and finally, to provide recommendations and guidelines to all actors, from government to manufactures for future large-scale adoption and deployment of autonomous buses in public transportation.
From the first day of the project in May 2018, autonomous public transportation services in open roads were operating by the project partners and news services are now under development.
However, the road to the deployment of autonomous vehicles for public transportation is filled with obstacles and barriers. On one hand, the technology still needs to improve and provide solutions to many issues related to autonomous driving in complex road situations. On the other hand, regulatory restrictions do not allow the full exploitation of autonomous vehicle capabilities on the road and in some cases, block the further research and development of efficient solutions.
During the 36 months of the project and in spite of the COVID crisis, the project results was to the high level of expectations, with on-demand, door-to-door, automated vehicle public transportation services delivered in the site of Belle-Idee. In addition with a concentrated and adapted publicity campaign the project was recognised internationally as the leader in the deployment of AVs for public transportation services.

At the end of the 36 month period all operators had offered regular public transportation services at different sites, having identified numerous issues, related to the vehicle on-road behavior, which were resolved by the vehicle manufacturer, while the technical partners developed first versions of services’. Finally the basis for the on-demand door-to-door fleet management was put in place and new API for Vehicle to Fleet management started being developed, as anticipated in the overall AVENUE platform architecture.
Legal and regulatory barriers were identified for the different countries, including data privacy issues for the different services under development (like in-vehicle aggression identification, abandoned items, space availability).

In Geneva, the TPG operates launched in January 2021 the Belle-Idee site with on-demand, door-to-door service with three to four AVs and demonstrated it to many international stakeholders. The Meyrin site was finally decommissioned, as it was not adapted any longer for the operations.

In Luxembourg, the Pfaffenthal site, linking the Panorama lift with the Funicular station, and the Contern industrial site were operated, but has to be stopped due to the Covid restrictions and will be restarted with passengers in the last year of the project.

Keolis started in November 2019 the operations of the Groupama Stadium, where the service is integrated in the normal public transportation service time-table, operating in open road, with very complex road situation (Open road with high speed cars (60 Km/h), complex round-about, V2I communication).

In Copenhagen a major obstacle in the implementation of the Nordhavn site was obtaining approvals to drive on the selected route in Nordhavn. The license for commercial exploitation of AVs was finally approved in December 2019, and the authorization for the route in late March 2020. Amobility also initiated a new site at Oslo at Ormøya, started operating in December 2019. However the Nordhaven site due to works on the site had to be abandoned and a new site at Slagelse was set-up.

Two new replicator sites are in the process of integration, Sion-Uvrier (CH) and Esch-sur-Alzette (L), with target to replicate the Belle-Idee site.

During the first phase of the project we faced many barriers, specifically legal and regulatory, identified and corrected many technical issues pertaining to the shuttle operation and road behavior, and set up.
During the 2nd phase of the project many technical issues were resolved (eliminated harsh breakings, adapted vehicle interfaces, adapted user interfaces etc), a cost analysis tool was developed and placed on-line, and SUMP became integral part of the socio-economic analysis of the project.
At the end of the 36th month of the project, we were operating the first, world-wide service of fully automated mini-buses in on-demand, door-to-door services (at the Belle-Idee site).
A comprehensive cost evaluation tool was developed allowing the cost evaluation of Public transportation services, from CAPEX to OPEX, in any plausible urban situation, taking into account all elements, from areas size, target service quality, vehicle speed, number of vehicles etc.

Solutions were provided by NAVYA by enhancing and introducing software features like enhancing the mapping the environment with new mapping materials providing High Definition (HD) Maps and more Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to clean and categorise the environments, a more precise GNSS localisation system, allowing both a better understanding of the road and obstacles and providing exact position to the driving software to react. An introduction of new driving features allowed having better acceleration and deceleration profiles, better trajectory in curves, adaptation with the behavior of the surrounding vehicles, bikes and moving obstacles, reducing harsh breaking, increase speed, adjusts speed in advance depending on vehicle in front, adapt safe and relative speed when bypassed by another vehicle and do not jerk upon cars getting back in front of the shuttle after bypassing it. New features were added of communication with traffic light via V2X technologies allowed to anticipate red lights and adapt the deceleration profile or to ask the priority of the traffic light to continue normal driving.
CEESAR laid the ground for a more encompassing safety evaluation. It developed a state-of-the-art methodology, which will use data currently gathered from test sites currently operating at low (and safe) speeds, to identify and characterise scenarios, on which the risk associated with higher operation speed can be simulated.
Several state of the art services were also developed by CERTH for the enhancement of passenger safety in the vehicle, like in-vehicle aggression identification, abandoned items, space availability, using video and AI techniques.
In the domain of socio-economic impact, the project has already collected the basic data for the economic evaluation of the services, taking into account micro and macro economic models, and has started the collection of data.
Luxembourg Sales-Lentz public line innaguration
Geneva TPG public service offer
Lyon, Keolis Navly experimental site
Danemark AMobility public line testing