Part Three: Existing Self-Driving Systems and a Cross Platform Autonomous Solution
In the final instalment of CarTrawler’s Vanguard of Kinesis series we take a look at a cross platform multimodal transport solution, an autonomous system that has already found its way into everyday use and the intuitive software that will map out our daily lives. In the last instalment of CarTrawler’s future focused technology series, the Vanguard of Kinesis Part II we explored autonomous passenger drones and how the airline industry can best utilise them.
A company with boots on the ground in terms of autonomous passenger transport is French firm Navya, which operate fully electric busses in nineteen international locations, including Hong Kong, the U.S, Singapore, France and Australia. These early stage autonomous busses ferry passengers every day and go a long way to prove the undisputable inevitability of autonomous transport. Despite being autonomous, Navya’s Autonom Shuttle requires a driver, at least until legislation changes, according to Diego Isaac, the company’s Marketing and Communication Manager, “on public roads it is compulsory to have a safety driver in all autonomous vehicles, so we have to have someone on board, however we are ready for when the laws changes,” he said. “We maintain the vehicles ourselves but have a very close relationship with French transport group Keolis,” Isaac told CarTrawler, “In Lyon and Paris, we have shuttles operating and transporting people every day. This is the big difference between Navya and our competitors, we actually have autonomous vehicles on the road. In Lyon, we have been operating for a year and a half and we’re open to the public and on the road six days a week.”
Navya’s Autonom Shuttle
“The plan is to have our busses working 24hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, because there will be no driver, so there will be no need to stop the service. Ours will be a 100% autonomous, turnkey solution for our customers,” said Isaac. The Autonom Shuttle has a ten hour battery and a maximum speed of 25-30kph (15-18mph), according to Isaac they are “not selling a high speed solution, our aim is to improve the flow in the city.” There are more than 60 of these fifteen seat shuttles deployed across the world and an Autonom Cab in the works for release in 2018, which will seat six people and be capable of speeds between 30-50kph (18-31mph).
Moving our focus back to the future, the Pop.Up system devised by Airbus, Italdesign and Audi, combines autonomous driving, drone technology and possibly even the Hyperloop. The Pop.Up is a carbon fibre capsule which transforms into a car by coupling to a battery powered ground module. Then, when required, it can disconnect from its wheels and attach itself to a 5 by 4.4 metre air module propelled by eight counter-rotating rotors, at which point the Pop.Up becomes an urban air vehicle.
Navya’s Autonom Cab
The Pop.Up will potentially work as part of a Mobility as a Service (MaaS), intuitive mobile app, which will hail both the car and drone attachments when required. “Once the passenger has booked his trip via his smart device, the system will suggest the best configuration for the journey combining both ground and air module depending on the distance, the traffic, the weather conditions and pricing options,” Italdesign, CEO Jörg Astalosch told CarTrawler.
These futuristic, AI powered networks will be a further development of systems like CarTrawler’s state-of-the-art MarketPlace product in testing, which will utilise the company’s insights from trillions of historical travel purchases and relevant behavioural data points, while also using observations and learnings from these trends to offer the customer the right product at the right time.
AI-MaaS apps, used alongside the Pop.Up, would predict a customer’s day and could, hypothetically, have a drone attachment at the ready for a long morning commute before preparing an autonomous drive system for use around town, with a coffee ready for collection in a nearby Starbucks or even Hyperloop access for a weekend fishing trip to the coast. “They say we’re on the eve of a revolution in the mobility world. I believe it, too,” said Astalosch, “It’s called a revolution because everything is going to change. Pop.Up could be part of this revolution as well. It will involve not only cars and vehicles as isolated objects, but will deeply redesign the cities.”
Unveiling Pop.Up at the Geneva Motor Show, Mathias Thomsen, General Manager for Urban Air Mobility at Airbus said “Successfully designing and implementing solutions that will work both in the air and on the ground requires a joint reflection on the part of both aerospace and automotive sectors, alongside collaboration with local government bodies for infrastructure and regulatory frameworks.” Speaking on behalf of Italdesign, Jörg Astalosch said “Today, automobiles are part of a much wider eco-system: if you want to design the urban vehicle of the future, the traditional car cannot alone be the solution for megacities, you also have to think about sustainable and intelligent infrastructure, apps, integration, power systems, urban planning, social aspects, and so on. In the next years, ground transportation will move to the next level and from being shared, connected and autonomous it will also go multimodal and moving into the third dimension.” This multimodal ground and air passenger concept vehicle makes full use of both ground, airspace and possibly Hyperloop technologies, according to a spokesperson from Italdesign. “Pop.Up combines the flexibility of a small two seater car with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains. The core of the product is therefore the intermodality and making it modular,” Jörg Astalosch told CarTrawler. The Pop.Up is also rumoured to be considered for Hyperloop use, to which Astalosch said “It is a possible scenario: a fully integrated system with all the infrastructures and other means of transportation.”
Airlines that want to avoid being blindsided by disrupters, like the taxi industry was by Uber, should research the possibilities of utilising AI-MaaS software for their customers, so they can control the journey, instead of simply being a cog in the larger machine. A faster and more integrated, multimodal transport ecosystem is the future of mobility and will offer a system, described by Deloitte as being “faster, cheaper, cleaner, and safer than today’s”. It is imperative that airlines equip themselves with technology powered by artificial Intelligence, deep learning, neural networks and big data, in order to remain at the forefront of industry. Whether it’s hurtling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a Hyperloop, buzzing from an airport to a rooftop in a Volocopter, or combining both in a Pop.Up, one thing that’s for sure is powerful, intelligent apps will be at the helm.
For Part II in the series click here.
By Morgan Flanagan Creagh
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