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safety, security and reliabilityRobbert Lohmann, Chief Commercial Officer

If we really want to learn more about autonomous transit systems we’ll have to look at permanent systems in daily use.

safety, security and reliability

The autonomous vehicles that the Dutch municipality of Capelle aan den IJssel deploys to connect the Rivium business park and metro station Kralingse Zoom received high marks for safety, security and reliability by passengers. This is the outcome of a quantitative study into the ease of use of the ParkShuttle connection. Furthermore, the study shows that reliability is ultimately the decisive factor in passengers’ readiness to use any kind of autonomous public transport.

The study (N=109) was conducted by Jochem van der Burg, a social geography student at Utrecht University. He focused on seven operational factors of the ParkShuttle: (1) safety and security, (2) reliability, (3) travel time, (4) information services, (5) price and payment system, (6) comfort and (7) integration in the public transport network. The aim was to establish which of these operational factors most determines ease of use and how the insights gained from the study could be used in the decision-making process of autonomous transit systems elsewhere.

Overall, 90% of the respondents were positive about the ease of use of ParkShuttle, giving it an average mark of 7.2 on a scale of one to ten. Reliability proved to be the most decisive factor: four out of five respondents said they felt the system was reliable, mainly because of its frequency and punctuality.

This will only get better in the future, said Robbert Lohmann, CCO of 2getthere (the developers of the shuttles). “The autonomous vehicles currently in use are in excellent condition, but nevertheless they are 15 years old. When we introduce the third generation of vehicles, reliability will further improve and as a result so will ease of use. The same applies to comfort, another factor of influence.”

Contradicting results

Despite the fact that ParkShuttle in Rivium is still unique as it is the only permanent autonomous shuttle system integrated in a public transport schedule, Van den Burg was able to compare the results of his study with those of various demonstrations across the globe. This led to some surprising conclusions.

For instance, it became clear that ParkShuttle passengers’ appreciation of security was relatively high (they felt that criminal activity on the shuttle was very unlikely), despite the absence of on-board stewards. This contrasts remarks by passengers in a demonstration in Vantaa, Finland, who provided a low score for security despite the presence of safety stewards in its set-up. A possible reason for this lies in ParkShuttle’s passenger capacity and the resulting social control. Vehicles in the Finnish demonstration carry no more than ten passengers, whereas the autonomous shuttles in Capelle aan den IJssel carry up to 24.

Demonstrations versus live situations

Lohmann’s response to this: “Another obvious difference lies in the fact that response in the Rivium study is based on the experience of commuters who have been using the shuttle service for several years. Finnish respondents were asked for their impressions after a ride in a temporary demonstration, meaning their response is more likely based on expectation than actual experience. As far as we’re concerned, this shows the relatively low value of such demonstrations. If we really want to learn more about autonomous transit systems we’ll have to look at permanent systems in daily use. Sadly, those are still few and far between.”

Information to improve

Although information services play a relatively minor role in ease of use, this factor received the lowest scores. This applied to the information provided at stops and on the shuttles, as well as the ready availability of information in case of delays or cancellations.

Lohmann: “This will soon be a thing of the past. As part of the renewal and extension of the system for Rivium 3.0 we will be installing information kiosks at shuttle stops to display system status and the time that the next shuttle will arrive. Inside the shuttles the current single information displays with push buttons will be replaced by two 19” vertical touch screens displaying up-to-the-minute information about the shuttle’s travel time.”

Lohmann is convinced that this study will help the organization of future autonomous systems in public transport. “Many demonstrations are set up to find out if people are prepared to use autonomous public transport systems,” says the 2getthere executive. “This study shows that such demonstrations are no longer necessary, as it’s now clear that people have no trouble embracing systems that are punctual, safe and reliable. Add to that a solid business case and you’re ready to take the next step towards a permanent application.”

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We are at the SmartDrivingCar Summit, join us!

SmartDrivingCar-SummitSmartDrivingCar Summit

Autonomous vehicles will disrupt and revolutionize mobility for communities, corporations and consumers.

SmartDrivingCar Summit

2getthere will be presenting at the second annual SmartDrivingCar Summit, reporting on the developments in relation to the recent announcement for the Rivium, NTU and Zaventem projects. The conference brings together buyers, sellers and facilitators of autonomous cars, trucks, and buses. It looks at the economic forces behind deployment and commercialization of autonomous vehicle technology—supply, demand, and public oversight.

The event is co-chaired by Prof. Alain Kornhauser of Princeton University and features a mix of academic, industry, and government speakers with each session packed with multiple experts. The conference features six workshops that will examine:
– Near-term autonomous vehicle deployment in the U.S.
– Near-term autonomous vehicle deployment in China and Europe
– The role of insurance in facilitating adoption by individuals, corporations and transit agencies
– Artificial intelligence, looking at sensors, software and data
– Ride hailing services, reviewing conventional, self-driving and driverless advances
– The what, how and when of achieving best outcomes in metropolitan planning

Focus Areas

Near-term Safety Benefits of Safe-driving Cars
How insurance and new car dealers can benefit by promoting the RoI advantages to fleets and mutually beneficial promotional discounts to consumers. As well as an update as to the performance in automatically avoiding crashes of the technology options available in showrooms today.

Near-term Regulatory Challenges
that are needed to facilitate the shared use of our existing streets by low and normal speed Driverless vehicles

Near-term Mobility and Community Service Benefits
of the array of emerging low-speed Driverless shuttles to all in gated communities and campuses, to the mobility disadvantaged in many/most suburban communities and to address first-mile, last-mile accessibility challenges in transit-oriented communities

The Current State-of-the-art in DeepDriving
to the long-term opportunities of using affordable Computer Vision and elegant Deep Learning training, testing and enhancing techniques in SmartDrivingCars, and more.

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Workhorse testing of the 3rd generation vehicle

Workhorse-testingRobbert Lohmann, Chief Commercial Officer

[quote]”It is really good to see testing progressing for the projects in delivery – especially the speed is impressive.”[/quote]
 

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Workhorse Testing

For the new generation GRT vehicle workhorse testing is progressing. At 2getthere’s Utrecht based testsite, the verification and validation team has been busy for months with vehicle tests. On Friday April 5th we filmed one of the first tests with a fully loaded vehicle at 35 kilometers per hour. Even though the speed is already impressive, we are even more pleased with the stability and comfort on the vehicle on the uneven surface and the low noise levels. The workhorse testing is a typical step in 2getthere’s system lifecycle approach. After having tested the basic functionality of the vehicle platform over the last few months, we have now reached the stage where higher velocity tests are being conducted. Once all these tests pass, we’ll move on to a similar phased testing program for the first prototype.

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Differntiator

Robbert Lohmann, Chief Commercial Officer: “With the Bluewaters and Rivium projects under contract, it is really good to see testing progressing. We have a very good team that is working dilligently on completing the engineering and the testing of the new generation vehicle. Together with the cutting-edge supervisory system, it easily puts ahead of the remainder of the market. In terms of fucntionality, technology robustness and driving behavior, 2getthere’s offering is simply much better. More and more we also see the market becoming aware and realizing that we deliver a lot more than a simple demonstration.’

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3rd generation GRT vehicle steals the show at Intertraffic

Most-advanced-autonomous-vehicleRobbert Lohmann, Chief Commercial Officer

“The compliments from visitors are humbling and make us proud of the product that we are bringing to the market.”

Quite the show

At the Intertraffic Exhibition in Amsterdam (20-23 March, 2018) 2getthere’s new vehicle is quite the show: most likely the vehicle is the most photographed object at the exhibition. For the 2getthere staff at the exhibition the praise of visitors of the looks and the build quality if humbling and makes us proud of the product that we are bringing to the market. The vehicle will be debuting at the Rivium and Bluewaters projects under contract as permanent applications shortly.

Rivium 3.0 Presentation

On Wednesday March 21, 2getthere jointly presented on the Rivium 3.0 project with the city of Capelle aan den IJssel. In a 30 minute presentation the speakers shared information on the parties involved and how 2getthere’s ParkShuttle will be transformed into the world’s first autonomous system operating on public roads without featuring a safety driver or steward on board. The Smart Mobility Theatre was filled to the brim, with good follow up afterwards at the booth.

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2getthere establishes an office in Silicon Valley

office-2getthere-silicon-valleyCarel van Helsdingen, Chief Executive Officer, 2getthere

“We are hardly some inexperienced startup.”

Silicon Valley

Dutch technology company 2getthere, which specializes in the development of automated vehicles, is set to open a new office in Silicon Valley in January 2017. From its new base in the world’s leading technology hub, the Utrecht-based company intends to conquer the third major international market for automated transit solutions, following Asia (Singapore) and the Middle East (Dubai). 2getthere is the leading company worldwide with many years of experience in developing and operating automated, driverless vehicles that transport thousands of passengers a day. The company – which currently employs around 50 developers, IT specialists and engineers – estimates it will be able to sell a minimum of three to five of these types of solutions in the US annually within the next several years, accounting for a total of $150 million to $300 million in new orders.

Although 2getthere delivered its first automated transit system to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as early as 1997, the company remains a relatively unknown player in the Dutch manufacturing industry. Its core markets are located in Asia and the Middle East, where its mobility solutions (driverless taxis and minibuses) have been part of the urban infrastructure for some time. The opening of the new San Francisco office is part of the company’s strategy to break into the high-potential US market.

The company states that its decision to set up a base in the heart of high-tech hub Silicon Valley was prompted not only by the fact that all leading developers of automated transit systems and the related technologies are based there, but also by the immense market potential to be found in the area.
2getthere CEO Carel van Helsdingen: ‘The rapid growth of sprawling corporate campuses is particularly exciting to us in terms of the opportunities it offers. There’s the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, for example, the Tesla manufacturing facility in Nevada, and the Apple and Cisco campuses in California. Automated mobility solutions are the most obvious alternative for business parks on that scale.’

Having what it takes

2getthere currently has more experience in developing automated vehicles than any other company worldwide. The various applications it develops are used to transport around 80,000 passengers a month who collectively travel more than 100,000 kilometers. Van Helsdingen feels his company has got what it takes to achieve success in this market: ‘We are hardly some inexperienced startup – we specialize in developing vehicle software, traffic control systems, dispatch software (that is, the coordinating software used to manage a fleet) and in integrating the software for various types of sensors. We are currently in talks with several potential partners in Silicon Valley to see where we might be able to find synergies. That process will undoubtedly be boosted by the fact that we will now actually be physically based there as well,’ Van Helsdingen said.

COO Robbert Lohmann pointed out that 2getthere has a unique edge when it comes to the real-world implementation of these systems. ‘There may be a large number of pilot projects around, but in order to develop a 100% safe system with an uptime rate of 99.8%, like the one we built in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, you also need to have an in-depth understanding of planning aspects and traffic flows. As far as I know, we are the only company worldwide that combines all those different types of knowledge and expertise.’

Priority

Entering the US market marks a new stage in the evolution of the fast-growing company, which will be moving into new premises in Utrecht in the coming year, including its own test courses. The company is currently involved in more than a dozen scheduled projects across the US, including a project in Jacksonville, Florida and one in Greenville, South Carolina. Lohmann: “You don’t break into this market overnight – it can take up to several years for a project to be completed. But having realized successful applications already, we are often automatically shortlisted for public and private tenders.”
2getthere has already teamed up with the US-based company Oceaneering, working on various projects. The company states that finding strong partners is a priority when it comes to reducing the time needed to develop the market for its products. Van Helsdingen: ‘We provide mobility solutions but remain the actual owner of the system. That means we’re looking for companies undaunted by the idea of partnering with us for a period of 10 or even 20 years, as is the case with United Technical Services in the United Arab Emirates and SMRT in Singapore. Both these companies are currently shareholders in 2getthere. We are confident we will be able to find similar partners in Silicon Valley relatively quickly.’

Smart cities

2getthere also believes there is great commercial potential in the development of transit systems for large theme parks and medium-sized airports (1.5 million+ passengers a year). Lohmann believes orders to the tune of 50 to 100 million dollars a year would not be unrealistic. ‘If we get the opportunity to partner with one of the major technology companies, that figure could turn out to be even higher.’
For the longer term, Lohmann also has high expectations of the development of what are known as ‘smart cities’ – cities investing in integrating data available locally in order to improve quality of life. ‘Automated transit is absolutely one of the key elements in that process, and that includes Automated People Mover Systems, Automated Transit Networks and Shared Autonomous Vehicles. The city of Columbus, Ohio is currently in the process of building such a system, and that’s exactly the type of project in which our company would like to get involved and share its expertise.’

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