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Regulations Required: safety drives autonomous vehicles market (whitepaper)

Regulation-Required-Safety-Drives-Autonomous-Vehicles-MarketSjoerd van der Zwaan, Chief Technology Officer

Governments must demand from manufacturers that they are able to prove their products are safe

Regulations required

Authorities will have to introduce strict regulations to ensure the safe introduction of autonomous vehicles on public roads. By doing so, they can also speed up the adoption, says 2getthere, the Utrecht-based company specializing in autonomous transit systems, in a whitepaper published today, named Safety in Autonomous Transit. The whitepaper says authorities should set stricter conditions regarding road safety, reliability and availability of vehicles and also for the spatial planning of public areas where autonomous vehicles operate. Stricter regulations will most likely result in a shakeout in the supply side of the autonomous transit market.

It is becoming common for autonomous vehicles to leave their testing facilities behind in favour of public roads. Unfortunately this also leads to an increase in the number of accidents. In order to guarantee passenger safety, 2getthere says governments will have to set stricter requirements for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles. More concretely, this means that a level of safety will have to be defined which manufacturers must be able to guarantee – both on paper and in practical tests in a controlled environment. Designs should be tested for road safety by independent assessors, who should also be tasked with the assessment of public areas and traffic situations in which autonomous vehicles will be operated.

The whitepaper claims that a step-by-step approach is the most logical choice to ensure the introduction of autonomous vehicles on public roads in a manner that guarantees the safety of passengers as well as the environment. 2getthere’s experts refer to examples where autonomous vehicles are already being deployed successfully in more or less controlled environments such as airports, campuses and amusement parks. The company says the first step is to introduce autonomous vehicles in relatively controlled environments, where the number and complexity of possible interactions with other traffic can be limited.

Read and download the white paper: 2getthere whitepaper Regulations Required – Safety drives autonomous vehicles market

A shakeout is imminent

2getthere estimates that it will take ten years or more before autonomous vehicles will dominate the public road. There is a lot of distance to cover from ‘successful demonstration’ to ‘large-scale everyday mobility solution’, says Sjoerd van der Zwaan, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of 2getthere. ‘Governments must demand from manufacturers that they are able to prove their products are safe – and they must set concrete requirements regarding reliability, availability and safety. This includes tasking the assessment of products and their application to independent bodies, such as the RDW (Netherlands Vehicle Authority) in the Netherlands. Manufacturers may see this as a challenge, but it’s a necessary step, considering the responsibility they carry in the transportation of people and the introduction of autonomous vehicles in the public area. It’s the only way to prevent unnecessary incidents.’

A call for stricter regulations will most likely result in a shakeout in the supply side of the market, says 2getthere’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Robbert Lohmann: ‘In this whitepaper we conclude that the industry is a long way away from making autonomous vehicles that are as safe in mixed traffic as, for instance, city buses with professional drivers. We believe it remains to be seen if all manufacturers currently in the market have the commitment for the long haul, or the knowledge and expertise to take the necessary steps.’

Pragmatic approach

Lohmann believes the same applies to the demand side. He says: ‘Stricter requirements will increase the cost of the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Higher cost levels will cause municipal governments to shift their focus from yet more demonstrations to permanent and commercially viable solutions. In the short term, this may seem to slow down the market introduction, but in fact it will speed up the actual utilization of autonomous vehicles. For this reason, we suggest taking a pragmatic approach, in which autonomous vehicles are first introduced in semi-controlled environments before we take the step of deploying them in fully uncontrolled environments.’

He continues: ‘We will have to build up practical experience with operational systems that carry large numbers of passengers, such as those recently made possible in the Netherlands by the introduction of new legislation (the ‘Experimenteerwet’) that regulates fully autonomous vehicles operating in mixed traffic . If at this moment we are able to introduce autonomous vehicles in a controlled manner, this will contribute to road safety in cities.’

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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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Automation and Smart Cities: opportunity or a threat?

 Sjoerd van der Zwaan & Robbert Lohmann, 2getthere

“There is a clear need here for policy from government and local authorities.”

Driverless Car a threat

Is the driverless car a threat? Unless wise policy choices are made, autonomous cars could well make our cities even busier and more unsafe than they already are. This is the conclusion of the Utrecht-based technology company 2getthere, which specializes in automated transit solutions, in the white paper ‘Automation and Smart Cities: Opportunity or threat?’. According to 2getthere, urban policymakers are gazing at autonomous cars through rose-tinted glasses, and are not properly considering the potential negative scenarios.

In the white paper, the company observes that autonomous cars feature in just about every study on cities of the future – smart cities. In this context, they are regarded as the key to fewer cars on the road and reduced traffic movements in cities, while alleviating parking pressure and improving air quality. It is also believed that automation will significantly enhance traffic safety.

According to the authors Robbert Lohmann and Sjoerd van der Zwaan, however, who respectively hold the positions of Chief Operations Officer and Chief Technology Officer at 2getthere, these lofty expectations are unrealistic – at least, without supplementary policy decisions.

Solving the congestion

Lohmann: “This is because replacing traditional cars on a one-to-one basis with autonomous cars will not solve the problem of congestion: a combination is needed with shared use, or preferably, public transport. Autonomous cars will indeed improve air quality, but this will have to be in conjunction with sustainable electrification for a cleaner and more sustainable environment on a global scale. Autonomous cars must be able to stop anywhere to pick up passengers and they also need a place to park when not in use or while their batteries are charging. This means that car parks and parking spaces will continue to be necessary. It is also important to note that autonomous cars will be safer than regular cars, but they are not safer than public transport. In addition, the transition from manually driven cars to autonomous cars, where both share the road, also entails risks for other road users.”

Four daily rush hours instead of two

In the white paper, 2getthere describes various scenarios in which autonomous cars are likely to cause more rather than fewer problems in cities. Van der Zwaan: “For instance, because people who currently opt for public transport may switch to autonomous road transport. Or because there will be four rather than two daily rush hour periods, as autonomous cars will be parking themselves outside the city limits during the day.”

The authors therefore believe that urban policymakers must concentrate primarily on autonomous public transport type solutions, and where necessary, provide reserved bus lanes to guarantee traffic flow. Lohmann: “It is true that a mix of the ingredients of self-driving, pick-up and delivery, shared car use, and sustainable electricity is conducive to more liveable and pedestrian-friendly cities, but we believe that this cannot simply be left to the market. In that case, there is the danger that there will be many autonomous vehicles on the roads in the future that are used inefficiently, consume a lot of energy, and only add to the chaos. There is a clear need here for policy from government and local authorities.”

Read our free white paper now:
‘Automation and Smart Cities: Opportunity or threat?’

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