‘Extremely costly’ AutoKab, for example, participated in various European projects, including CityMobil2. Relating his experience running automated driverless vehicles in La Rochelle, France, between October 2014 and April 2015, Holguin pointed out, "We carried over 60,000 passengers without a single crash."
Holguin said that a lot of La Rochelle residents praised the service. What they didn’t know was that this was just an experiment. More important, the media, general public and others didn’t really discuss data collected during the trial.
AutoKab, meanwhile, says it learned several lessons from the EU project. “We studied what was behind such data,” said Sandu. First, running a low-speed [shared] vehicle was “extremely costly,” he said. He also noted that a shared vehicle “was often running empty.” Without better communication between the automated vehicles and mass transit, the service is hard to optimize.
Further, Sandu pointed out that the size of a vehicle, and its passenger load might have to vary according the size and topography of a particular city.
During the demonstration phase of CityMobil2 project, two procured fleets (from project partners Robosoft and Easy Mile, respectively) served seven selected cities for varying periods. But those vehicles might not be ideal for a certain city.
“We just used them because they were available,” Christian said.” Further analysis is necessary.
Second, the city also needs to adjust, said Holguin. “They need to make investments in infrastructure such as V2X-enabled traffic lights.” Tinkering with AV alone is no panacea for any city. Urban traffic issues need to be looked at more holistically. This includes designating zones for pickup or drop-off of AV services.
Two diverging approaches Laymen looking at highly automated vehicles might perceive Waymo’s automated vehicles as cool. But Navya’s driverless shuttle buses? Not so much.
AAA and Keolis launched nation's first public self-driving shuttle, developed by Navya, in downtown Las Vegas this week. (Photo: AAA, Keolis)
In the United States, people tend to distrust transportation authorities or politicians making promises about investing in urban infrastructure. The prevailing assumption is that this ain’t gonna happen.
If Americans can’t trust city officials to spend the money to equip traffic lights with V2X communication technology, and if they don’t believe anyone will ever create separate highway lanes exclusive to AVs, the only recourse is to trust Google, Nvidia and Intel/Mobileye. These big companies are striving to create an AV smart enough that it can sense the road, see every obstacle and create real-time 3D mapping without relying on any adjustments in the existing infrastructure on the road.
In contrast, in Europe, EC-funded projects like CityMobil2 demand that AVs become part of an Automated Road Transport System (ARTS). As the EC project explained, “ARTS are road transport systems based on fully automated (no driver seat, no steering wheel) vehicles, which have a prior knowledge of the infrastructure they use, and which is certified with them. ARTS vehicles are not autonomous but constantly supervised and managed by a supervisory system under the control of a human operator.”
This is a vision of autonomy very different from how the U.S. tech industry perceives for AVs on the road. Key words in the EU project write-up above include AVs’ “prior knowledge of the infrastructure,” and the “certification” demanded for such AVs.