Developing solutions for the mobility of the first and last mile - people and goods
The experience illustrated herein aimed at testing possible transport services based on the use of driverless electric shuttle. The initiative falls within the Alto Adige Province and Merano municipality strategies to introduce innovative modalities of public transport, complementary to other initiatives more related to private transport means.
The mission can be summarised, in short, as improving urban mobility through self-driving shuttles, by developing solutions for the mobility of the first and last mile – (both for people and goods).
A shuttle with fifteen seats - eleven seated and four standing - but no steering wheel for the driver, who is not there. This is achieved by artificial intelligence assisted by seventeen satellites and a wealth of sensors and cameras. Thanks to these, the small electric self-driving shuttle, produced by a French company, has been able to read the route and "notice" the presence of sudden and unexpected obstacles.
In order to carry out this experiment, the route had to be completely cordoned off and no other vehicles or users allowed to circulate during the trial period, using barriers rented from an external provider.
Merano experiment is the result of "Mentor" project, financed with 1.5 million euros by Interreg V/A Italy-Switzerland Programme and led by the municipalities of Merano and Brig-Glis, in Switzerland.
Internal staff of project partners, external staff support during the demonstration were required
Thanks above all to the hard work of the NOI's communications department, the initiative has had an extraordinary impact not only at local level but also and above all at national level. Thanks also to the impetus given by this experiment, a revision of the aforementioned Smart Road Decree has been carried out in order to allow these vehicles to be tested on the road and thus create the conditions for their use for on-demand transport services of the future.
The experiment started with on-site press conference, with earlier preparation activities to install a GNSS antenna on a nearby building roof and mapping the route.
Despite precautions taken, it was hard to proceed due to the presence of curious onlookers on the route and troops of journalists.
The added value of the shuttle for a possible replication consists in the smaller lanes required and the possibility to travel in shared spaces with pedestrians and cyclists.
This is a one-off initiative. It can be replicated when supported by public interest, sponsoring or similar projects where an expansion of the trial application of such system could be foreseen.
An encouraging aspect is that after the test drive, confidence in driverless technology (and the vehicle in general) did improve considerably.
Amongst perplexities and doubts, the problems raised were:
- possible loss of employment by drivers
- security against from hacker attacks
- inappropriate behaviour on board.
Much attention was paid to the availability of municipal mobility "on demand".
For more information on the test-drive, please contact:
NOI - Dott. Roberto Cavaliere