Mission to SPACE completed: UITP’s automated vehicles project draws to a close
UITP's mission to SPACE has been completed!
- 5 October 2021
Movia, the Public Transport Authority (PTA) of Greater Copenhagen has planned three pilots to test autonomous busses on hospital sites. Phase 1 was an indoor, 3 month-long test with a bi-directional bus. The vehicle operated on-demand, at low speed (3.5km/h) and was wheelchair accessible. The bus had four coordinated based stops, circulated on a closed course and in a small space with a lot of pedestrians and indoor hospital vehicles. The test site was at the University Hospital of Zealand, Køge. This pilot was not covered by the Danish legislation for autonomous vehicle testing.
Movia, as a PTA, has policy priorities which seek to push the development of autonomous technology in public transport. They believe it is important to test autonomous buses interlinked with public transport in order to understand and fine-tune the technology in relation to topics such as user behavior, user-friendliness (e.g. disability and satisfaction), user acceptance and ordinary operation in the context of public transport.
The hospital autonomous bus projects have several objectives:
The budget of phase 1 was estimated at €90,000. The budget of the three tests altogether is estimated at €605,000. The pilots are financed by the Region of Zealand (45%), Movia (45%) and the Capital Region of Copenhagen (10%). The Metro Company is also contributing with man-power.
On the 30 May 2017, the Danish parliament adopted an amendment of the Danish Road Traffic Act allowing testing of self-driving cars. According to the amended act, all companies that wish to carry out testing with self-driving cars must apply for a permit at the Ministry of Transportation. The application must contain a description of the test vehicle, a test implementation plan, specification of the involved degree of automatisation, the stretches of road to be used, as well as a number of other specific details about the test.
The day-to-day operations of the autonomous shuttle for phase 1 of the project gave Movia valuable knowledge and experience. Challenges encountered were especially instructive. These include: the indoor setting which gave circumstantial challenges as the GPS signals was unreliable and put extra pressure on the image recognition to align the bus with the ramps (ramps were set in place to allow easy access to the bus for wheelchairs, walkers, disabled and not-so-sure-footed passengers at the hospital). The software systems therefore needed manual re-setting (re-calibration) in order to allow perfect alignment of the ramps. In theory, SAE level 4 should not have this issue. There were also difficulties with the communication between the vehicle and the on-demand system - manual redirecting of the bus to the desired stop was necessary. A much more effective communication tool is needed for passengers to understand – and use – the on-demand call of the bus stops. Although the bus operated in on-demand mode in the off-peak hours, most passengers just waited for the bus to come, rather than actively summoning it.
By the end of the trial, 5,800 passengers had been transported with an average of 75 people per day. The shuttle travelled a total of 842km (on average, 13km per day) at a typical operational speed of 3.6km/h. The customer satisfaction was very high - 98% users claimed to be satisfied with the service. No accident or incidents involving passengers occurred during the three-month trial. However, there were three disruptions in the performance of the bus: there was a breakdown of a shock absorber on the bus (this was fixed within one working day). The battery of the vehicle ran flat but this was due to a manual mistake (forgot to connect to the power socket). And finally there was a minor collision with a passenger ramp (at 1 km/h). This led to the need of a software update and a readjustment of the ramp.
Two studies were carried out to measure customer satisfaction; “Interaction with the build-up area” by the University of Aalborg and “Passenger perceptions” by The University of Roskilde.
UITP's mission to SPACE has been completed!
The SPACE Final Conference will take place on 30 September.
7 words explained
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.
High density environment with an efficient high capacity public transport system with good capillarity and high frequencies.
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, isolated city with an own public transport system and <100K inhabitants.
Low-density environment, small cities and villages with poor public transport services mainly connecting the villages.
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.
Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication is the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa.