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Autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles Carel van Helsdingen, Chief Executive Officer, 2getthere
[quote]“Where a demonstration only provides an indication of the way passengers interface, a real-life application shows real-world behavior.”[/quote]

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99% efficiency

The driverless Masdar Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system at the carbon neutral Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has functioned at over 99% efficiency since it began services 6 years ago! This remarkable achievement is indicative of the system’s quality technology, dynamic safety features and robustness resulting in almost no failures or delays, and zero collisions and accidents since its launch. 

2 Millionth Passenger 

The PRT opened to the public in 2010, operates on a 2km loop servicing students and visitors from the parking lot to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST). The transport system hit 500,000 passengers and 1,000,000 million passengers in November 2012 and May 2014 at a daily average of 692 and 787 people respectively. Since May 2014, the system saw a tremendous increase of 175% in passenger traffic to reach 2,000,000 transported passengers in November 2016. Serendipitously, the Masdar PRT system transported its 2 millionth passenger one week before the commencement of the 7th year of operations.

Ms. Geethma Devangee, a student from Merryland School Abu Dhabi, who was visiting Masdar City on an educational field trip was the 2 millionth passenger. To celebrate the milestone, Ms. Devangee was presented with a dining voucher redeemable at any restaurant in Masdar City and a commemorative certificate.

Reliable and high service level

Speaking on the challenges of running an efficient system, Carel van Helsdingen, CEO of 2getthere said, “At Masdar City we have both daily passengers and first-time users, from 6am until midnight, with the requirement to constantly provide a reliable and high service level under difficult environmental conditions. As a result, we have a significant edge over companies that are only at the start of their development.”

Significant Step

Speaking on the system reaching 2,000,000 million transported passengers, Yousef Baselaib, Executive Director of Sustainable Real Estate for Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s future energy company, said,
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“This milestone marks a significant step in the progress of Masdar City, and stands as a testament to our culture of innovation. The popularity of the PRT demonstrates how functional, sustainable urban transport development is paving the way for cities of the future.”

Data autonomous vehicles

Since 2010, the Masdar PRT system has also been collecting data which will be utilized for the further development of autonomous vehicles, in relation to the technology, its interactive capabilities with users, and social implications. For example, data collected so far displays an average occupancy of 60% overall with peaks of nearly 90% on weekends. Having this information on hand has undoubtedly assisted in the success rates of 99.6% and 99.9% for system availability and vehicle reliability respectively.

The data collected from the PRT system has been invaluable, according to Carel van Helsdingen, CEO of 2getthere. He said, “Real-life applications are invaluable for the reliability of the resulting information. Where a demonstration only provides an indication of the way passengers interface with a system, a real-life application shows real-world behaviour.”

Very Important Passengers

Van Helsdingen added: “We are content with the reliability of the vehicles and the application at Masdar City. Because of the appeal of Masdar City we have been honored in welcoming many VIPs in our vehicles, ranging from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President to the UAE, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN-leader Ban-Ki Moon and celebrities including Clive Owen, James Cameron and David Ferrer. The most recent VIP being His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, one week ago (passenger number 1.988.933).” The success of the PRT system at Masdar City has shown sustainable transport is a viable option even in the harsh conditions of the Middle East.

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Operations contract of Driverless Parkshuttle extended with 2 years

ParkShuttleDick van Sluis, Alderman Roads and Transit, City of Capelle aan den IJssel

[quote]”We are realizing more-and-more that the we have been ahead of our time with the ParkShuttle.”[/quote]
 

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Extension ParkShuttle

The world’s first driverless vehicle, the ParkShuttle at business park Rivium in the city of Capelle aan den IJssel (the Netherlands) will continue operations for at least 2 more years. The Metropolitan region Rotterdam The Hague (MRDH) confirmed the extension until late 2018 of the concession of operator Connexxion last week. The city of Capelle aan den IJssel has voiced the intent to renew the system and expand it once the concession runs out.

The ParkShuttle is operational since 1999, making it the first driverless vehicle system in the world. In the 17 years that have passed, it has grown into a big success with the system carrying over 2,000 passengers per day. Although not showing their age, the currently operational vehicles are over 13 years old and have each driven over 200,000 kilometers. As part of the extension of the concession remedial works will be conducted to correct the rutting of the road and restore the driving comfort. 

Extension ParkShuttle

The high appreciation scores of the passengers in combination with the positive influence of the system on business park Rivium as a location for companies, are the basis of the decision to extend the concession. A recent survey of passengers shows the ParkShuttle scores favorably in comparison to a bus service on reliability, operational hours, waiting times and passenger information.

The city of Capelle aan den IJssel has the intent to renew and extend the system by late 2018. The initial extension will be towards a stop at the ‘Van Brienenoord’ bridge where a station for the Waterbus will be created. In addition the location will house a rental facility for electric bikes. The route to this location runs over public roads, amongst manually driven traffic. As such the ParkShuttle is likely to be the first autonomous system operating in mixed traffic without actually featuring a safety driver or steward on-board.

   

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Ahead of Time

‘We are realizing more-and-more that the we have been ahead of our time with the ParkShuttle’, comments Alderman Dick van Sluis, responsible for Roads and Transport. ‘Where autonomous transit has only become a hot item in the last 2 years, we have experience dating back to 1999. That gives us a great advantage and ensures we are in the spotlight both within the Netherlands and internationally.’

Within the region administered by MRDH there are several other locations where autonomous transit is being considered. Alderman Van Sluis: ‘Now that the concession has been extended, it allows looking at other systems and extending the ParkShuttle. The latter is our challenge for the upcoming period: how can the ParkShuttle contribute to the development of Rivium to an attractive and innovative location for companies.’

Focus on Innovation

Naturally Eric Bavelaar, managing director Connexxion for the West Region, is very appreciative of the extension: ‘It is vital that in a time where we foresee mobility significantly changing in the coming 15 years, we expand on the basis that was founded with the city of Capelle aan den IJssel and MRDH.’ As an important stakeholder in public transit, Connexxion focuses on innovation with the ParkShuttle being a primary example. As such Connexxion will also deploy additional service employees to stimulate the use of the ParkShuttle system.

2getthere is currently developing its 3rd generation automated vehicle, incorporating the sensory systems to be able to drive in mixed traffic. The new vehicles are lighter, completely bidirectional and feature air-conditioning. The first prototype will be available end of January 2017. 2getthere is in contact with the city, MRDH and Connexxion about using these vehicles for the extension and renewal of the application.

2getthere’s CEO Carel van Helsdingen: “We are pleased with the 2 years’ extension and the ambition of the government to renew and extend the system. However, what pleases us even more is the positive ratings by the passengers of the system. Over the years the vehicles have proven their reliability and service level during all weather circumstances.”

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