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“Learning by doing”: STIB-MIVB is testing autonomous shuttles in Brussels

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16 October 2019

STIB-MIVB is currently running successively 3 tests with autonomous shuttles. The main objective is to get a good idea of the advantages and drawbacks of such vehicles, and if they might support new mobility services in the coming years (last mile, etc.).

The difficultly of the tests is increasing gradually with the different test phases:

  1. The first test phase took place in a nice park. Doing a first test in a park has 2 advantages: it’s not too difficult (no cars), and for the public it’s a very pleasant place to discover a new way of mobility. Including clients from the early stage of the tests has indeed been one strong will from STIB-MIVB. Since the beginning of the tests, the shuttles carried more than 5,293 customers, travelled along 1,902 km, over 32 days. 93% of the participants in the survey are really positive about the autonomous shuttle and their experience.

  2. The second test phase will take place in the business campus of Solvay, where the shuttles will be mixed with cars, the speed increased and an on-demand application will give possibility to anyone working in that area to order a shuttle.

  3. The third site is still under investigation and will probably be a hospital area with a bigger mobility relevance, passing through public streets and joining a metro station.

Like similar test, there is no driver on board, but yet, a shuttle attendant is always present in the shuttle. His role is to guide the public through this experience, answer their numerous questions, supervised the movement of the shuttle and do the safety check.

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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.