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Pilot

Alphaba Smart Bus

Alphaba Smart Bus
Location
Shenzhen, China
Date
Started
Length
2.8 km
Project details

What

The Alphaba Smart Bus is a demo pilot running in open public road conditions with mixed traffic in Shenzhen. This on-demand service has 4 coordinated-based stops and follows a 3 km fixed-route. The vehicle can be wheelchair accessible.

Budget & Financing

The financing for this pilot was initially obtained via an angel fund but it now comes from EV100 China, Shenzhen Bus Group and Scania. The pilot is also currently in negotiation with other major manufactures to receive funding from them. The total budget for this pilot is $11m USD.

Why

© Shenzhen Bus Group. Alphaba smart bus - Route

Why

The overarching goal of this project is to develop and deploy AV smart technologies in a public bus operation. In order to do so, the pilot aims to demonstrate the feasibility of autonomous bus operations and to obtain running big data for continuous improvement. The project has already obtained policy support for a demonstration from the Shenzhen government and seeks to gain approval for a public operation in order to expand the AV mobility ecosystem in Shenzhen.

Regulatory Framework

A demonstration permit has been obtained from the municipal government for a trial on open public roads.

© Shenzhen Bus Group. Alphaba smart bus.

© Shenzhen Bus Group. Alphaba smart bus.

Challenges

So far, during this pilot, there have been issues related to the vehicle’s ability to distinguish traffic lights, manage the stability of the signal due to the user environment, and navigate through the mixed traffic/pedestrians present on roads. Other technical issues that have been encountered are the poor battery performance of the vehicle and the fact that its movement is not very smooth.

Results & Evaluation

Despite the technical issues encountered, there have been no incidents or accidents. So far, 20 000 passengers have been transported, with an average of 55 passengers per day. 120 000 km has been covered with an average distance of 333 km per day at an average operational speed of 15km/h. The overall customer satisfaction shared on social media has been positive.

Associated Research

Associated research activities are also being conducted in partnership with the Southern University of Science and Technology Technical Center and in cooperation with Shenzhen Bus Group, Haylion Technologies, Huawei, ITSC and others.

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Lexicon

7 words explained

platooning

Also known as flocking. A collection of (automated) vehicles that travel together, actively coordinated in formation. Platoons decrease the distances between vehicles using electronic, and possibly mechanical, coupling. Platooning allows many vehicles to accelerate or brake simultaneously.

urban setting

High density environment with an efficient high capacity public transport system with good capillarity and high frequencies.

suburban setting

Medium density environment with a good public transport system with radial connections to the city center, but lower capillarity and frequencies. This setting includes suburban cities.

small cities

Small, isolated city with an own public transport system and <100K inhabitants.

rural

Low-density environment, small cities and villages with poor public transport services mainly connecting the villages.

SAE level

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels define the level of vehicle autonomy, or in other words, how much human intervention is still needed for an automated vehicle to operate. Currently, five SAE levels have been defined: Level 0: Automated system issues warnings and may momentarily intervene but has no sustained vehicle control. Level 1 (hands on): Driver and automatic system share vehicle control. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Level 2 (hands off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 3 (eyes off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 4 (mind off): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, e.g. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver's seat. Level 5 (steering wheel optional): No human intervention is required at all. An example would be a robotic taxi.

V2X

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication is the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa.