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last mile

Connexxion selected to operate Rivium 3.0

connexxion awarded operationsBram Moelker, operator Connexxion

“This is great news. We look forward to continuing to operate the system for the next 15 years.”

Connexxion awarded operations

In the coming years, 2getthere’s new GRT vehicles will transform the ParkShuttle in Capelle aan den IJssel into the world’s first autonomous system operating on public roads without featuring a safety driver or steward on board. To enable this the Metropolitan region Rotterdam The Hague (MRDH) has awarded to concession to operate the ParkShuttle from 2018 through 2033 to public transit operating company Connexion, part of Transdev. When the first driverless vehicles hit the public roads in 2020, it is a world first established by the metropolitan region. Lennart Harpe, responsible for public transit development at MRDH: ‘This concession underlines MRDH’s ambition to further increase regional mobility and to support the Roadmap NextEconomy by becoming an internationally leading research- and application area for autonomous transit for the last mile.’

The ParkShuttle system between subway station Kralingse Zoom in Rotterdam and business park Rivium in Capelle aan den IJssel is the first urban autonomous transit system in the Netherlands and in operation since 1999. Over the years over 6 million passengers have used the system.

>20% increase in daily usage

The current system will be replaced with 6 GRT (Group Rapid Transit) vehicles manufactured by 2getthere, which provide a capacity of approximately 500 passengers per hour per direction. The service will commence on the current trajectory by the summer of 2019. The extension over public roads towards the new to be established stop of the Waterbus will commence in 2020.

The renewal and extension of the ParkShuttle system has been the ambition of the city of Capelle aan den IJssel for a while. The system carries over 2,200 passengers on a daily basis. According to alderman Dick van Sluis this number will increase significantly: ‘With the extension in 2020 the system in the unique link between the Waterbus and the subway network of Rotterdam. We expect the number of daily passengers to increase with 20% as a result.’

MRDH contributes 600,000 Euro per year to the operations of the system. The city of Capelle aan den IJssel and De Verkeersonderming contributed financially to the delivery of the system.

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When will autonomous transit be a reality? (whitepaper)

Robbert Lohmann, Chief Commercial Officer 2getthere

“As soon as possible, we should be deploying applications that actually work in the here and now.”

Autonomous transit a reality

Large-scale introduction of driverless vehicles in modern urban traffic is an unlikely scenario for the next 10 to 15 years. This is the conclusion of a whitepaper, ‘When will autonomous transit be a reality’, published today by 2getthere, the Utrecht-based company that specializes in autonomous transit solutions. Instead of focusing solely on technology that makes cars autonomous, it would be better to work towards an urban traffic infrastructure in which a gradual development can take place from semi-autonomous vehicles to fully autonomous ones.

According to the authors of the whitepaper, Robbert Lohmann and Sjoerd van der Zwaan, 2getthere’s Chief Operations Officer and Chief Technology Officer, the world of autonomous transit is characterized by a watershed. On the one side we see the car manufacturers, who are betting heavily on technology that will enable cars to find their way without the help of a driver on the highway within just a few years. On the other side are the developers of automated systems of public transport, who connect vehicle autonomy with obstacle detection and separate lanes. Semi-autonomous systems like this are already in use with more soon to be operational, for instance in the Netherlands at the Rivium Businesspark in Capelle aan den IJssel and in Masdar City (Abu Dhabi). From 2019 Dubai will also be operating such a system connecting the Dubai subway system with Bluewaters Island, just off the Dubai coast. The Bluewaters Island APM will be a sustainable and autonomous system carrying up to 5,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

Read and download here the whitepaper: ‘When will autonomous transit be a reality?’

Autonomous transit systems

‘What we see happening is that car manufacturers and tech-companies are spending massively on marketing and organizing spectacular pilot projects in a bid to win over the public as well as the decision-makers in government’, says Lohmann. ‘However, our conclusion is that in reality, despite undeniable leaps in technology, fully autonomous cars (level 5) will not hit the road for many years – if ever.

In our whitepaper, therefore, we make a case for a paradigm shift: first start deploying automated transit systems in controlled environments (level 4), and then slowly, step by step, reduce the level of control. This will allow the technology to develop towards maturity without risking passenger safety.’

Gradual development

The strength of 2getthere’s philosophy is that society will soon be able to reap the benefits of autonomous transit without the disadvantages of the rule of the restrictive headstart. ‘Autonomous vehicles can add a significant amount of capacity to existing public transport, as they are a natural extension as feeder systems,’ says Lohmann. ‘Capelle in the Netherlands is a picture perfect example, where our Parkshuttle has for many years already been a popular “last mile” solution to get from the Kralingse Zoom subway station to Rivium Businesspark. It was recently decided to renew the existing Parkshuttle system and to expand its route to include a section of public road. This way we will be able to incrementally move towards a situation in which all forms of transportation, such as cars, bicycles, water bus, Parkshuttle and subway trains are seamlessly connected. Autonomous transit systems will soon be genuinely integrated into the transport chain.’

According to the authors, business campuses but also airfields are the perfect location for groundbreaking experiments in autonomous transit solutions. Lohmann: ‘The parameters in these locations are well known and you know which settings can be adjusted. Demonstrations of things that might be possible many years from now can be sexy, but we should be careful not to give decision-makers the wrong impression. As soon as possible, we should be deploying applications that actually work in the here and now, and on the basis of our experience introduce new generation after new generation. We predict that this will be a faster route towards autonomous transportation.’

Read and download also the whitepaper (July 2017): ‘Automation and Smart Cities: Opportunity or threat?’

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Oceaneering and 2getthere sign a teaming agreement for transit at theme parks

 Carel van Helsdingen, Chief Executive Officer 2getthere

“For us, this is an affirmation of our market-leading position in the area of autonomous vehicles.”

Long-term agreement for entertainment industry

2getthere, a pioneer and worldwide market leader in autonomous passenger vehicles and automated people mover solutions, today announced they have signed a long-term agreement with Oceaneering International, Inc. (“Oceaneering”) (NYSE: OII) headquartered in Houston, Texas. This agreement will combine the expertise and capabilities of these two companies to collaborate in the design, development and advancement of automated people-mover systems serving the U.S. markets and Entertainment venues worldwide. Leading the efforts for Oceaneering will be a division of its Advanced Technologies business segment, Oceaneering Entertainment Systems (“OES”). The agreement combines the key strategic strengths of both companies, utilizing Oceaneering’s engineering, production, and market expertise with 2getthere’s proven automated vehicle systems, design and their time-proven navigation and traffic management software expertise.

This arrangement will introduce 2getthere’s autonomous vehicle technologies to the rapidly expanding theme park and entertainment markets around the world, building on the strong relationships that have been developed with OES over the past 12 years. These people-mover systems are ideally suited for the significant transportation solutions that are required at these large venues, allowing for the safe, efficient and cost-effective movement of resort guests. By providing flexible point-to-point inter-connections from auto parking areas, public transit nodes, and nearby hotels to, in, and around these often massive resort complexes, AGVs have become increasingly attractive to owner-operators around the globe.

2getthere and Oceaneering are building upon a long period of successful cooperation. The companies collaborated on several early concept and schematic designs for some large-scale people mover systems in several U.S. states beginning as early as 2004. While none of those were ever realized, the companies both recognized the huge potential of these systems, and the mutual success of their collaborations. That success continued when 2getthere assisted FROG AGV, another Utrecht-based company later purchased by Oceaneering, with the first implementation of Oceaneering’s award-winning REVOLUTION™ Tru-Trackless™ ride system at Sea World Orlando in 2012. REVOLUTION uses the same base navigation technologies as the 2getthere people-mover systems. Most recently, in 2016, the companies joined again to deliver a large-scale people-mover system in a high-profile theme park attraction in the US.

2getthere has built an impressive body of IP in the field of vehicle controls, supervisory and wayside control systems, and sensor technologies. These developments make 2getthere a world leader in autonomous vehicles and people mover systems, having delivered successful projects in Europe and the Middle East. The company currently has new projects under contract at Bluewaters Island (Dubai, UAE) and business park Rivium (Capelle aan den IJssel, the Netherlands) and is involved closely in several genesis projects in the USA.

OES is a market leading supplier of theme park dark ride vehicle systems, custom show equipment, and specialty show systems and controls. The Themed Entertainment Association awarded their coveted THEA award for Breakthrough Technology to OES for developing the REVOLUTION Tru-Trackless Dark Ride System in 2012. Oceaneering supports a wide array of industries, delivering custom solutions to solve unique and complex challenges worldwide. Oceaneering brings extensive capabilities in engineering, production, vehicle assembly and testing, deployment and commissioning, as well as industry and market expertise globally in the Theme Park and Entertainment segments. They are able to leverage expertise from many diverse industries, from deep-water ROVs to Space Systems to unique military applications, with particular emphasis on safety, maintainability and reliability engineering.

Strategic Importance

According to Carel van Helsdingen, CEO of 2getthere, this agreement acknowledges the leading position his company’s technology currently has in the field of autonomous driving and transport systems. “For an industry-leading company like Oceaneering, who are intimately familiar with automated vehicle technology for their trackless rides, to enter into an agreement with us to work together on the delivery of projects in their market is a testament to our systems. For us, this is an affirmation of our market-leading position in the area of autonomous vehicles.”

The agreement is of great strategic importance for 2getthere, as it enables the company to further penetrate into the market of automated people movers at entertainment venues world-wide, and also into large-scale campus and public transportation systems within the US. “OES has extensive knowledge in this sector and understands perfectly the demand of its customers.” Van Helsdingen also noted the key factor of Oceaneering’s significant U.S.-based manufacturing capabilities in serving the U.S. markets.

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