One of the strong pillars of the Smart City is undeniably Smart Mobility, which itself cannot be conceived outside the concept of smart road. Smart city, energy transition, smart mobility, everything is connected.
In Search of the "City of Tomorrow": the City Labs phenomenon
From M-City, a laboratory city of the University of Michigan, a pioneer in infrastructures for tests dedicated to connected roads and vehicles, many projects have been launched around the world (K-City in South Korea, the eco-city of Tianjin in China, the “concept city” of Masdar in Abu Dhabi …). One of these projects is Transpolis, unique in Europe, located near the metropolis of Lyon. This life-size reconstruction is dedicated to the smart mobility. From September 2018 on, will find all the attributes of a city: buildings, roads, roundabouts, highways, crossroads, parking …
Its vocation: being a field of experimentation in a systemic approach. Its mission: having the various players of the smart mobility sector collaborate together and co-developing relevant solutions with the public actors to serve a city that adapts to the better life of its citizens and the protection of the environment. This place will be an opportunity to consider the possible interactions between vehicles themselves, between vehicles and road equipment’s but also between vehicles and the road infrastructure itself. It materializes the cooperation of the road sector and the automotive world combined with that of the private and public actors.
The technological challenge: consider the road / vehicle couple as a virtuous duo, create reliable interactions so that the autonomous and connected vehicle can circulate safely on a road designed for and with it.
When drivers become their own vehicle passengers
The connected vehicle is a vehicle that provides mobility information (guidance to the parking place, road work, accident alerts …) to its driver. We can talk about autonomous vehicles when, in addition, it is equipped with sensors (cameras, radars, sonars, etc …) to offer assistance to the driver (parking assistance, assistance to driving …).
In this respect, the 2016 DEKRA report on road safety highlights opportunity that driving assistance systems represent when 90% of road accidents are caused by human errors. Moreover, the French people surveyed in this study said at 73% that connected cars can better control the status of the vehicle and at 63% that they improve road safety. The report also states that smart infrastructures would help reduce the number of critical accident situations.
After the electric car, the trend is clearly toward the concept of connected car. Renault’s new strategic plan “Drive the future” is proof of this. It forecasts, between 2018 and 2022, the introduction of 15 ranges of vehicles with autonomous driving functions. At the same time, alliances in this direction are multiplying, in instance, at the end of 2017 Uber orders “thousands” of vehicles to Volvo and in early January 2018, it’s the turn of Google Waymo to go from 500 vehicles, to an order of several thousand, to Fiat Chrysler.
The Strategy & and PwC study estimates that the connected vehicle market will reach 115.2 billion euros in sales worldwide by 2020! It is interesting to know that the autonomy of the vehicles is classified according to 5 levels. Level 1 and 2 vehicles offer to inform and supervise the driver. From level 3, the vehicle manages the route without supervision from the driver, who can however regain control. With level 4 vehicles, the autonomy is total but still offers a recovery option in hands, while with level 5, there is no more driver, just passengers.
Beyond the vehicle equipment, the trend is actually in the direction of networking vehicles with each other, with infrastructures and with the road.
The vehicle of the future is in fact a catalyst for the ongoing evolution towards the road of the future.
The road, a source of data, the foundation of the new mobility
When talking about the road of the future it can evoke advances such as the biomaterials that will compose it, the photovoltaic road that will ensure the autonomy of vehicles and provide energy to infrastructure and buildings nearby, or even the road that monitors its state and regulates its temperature according to the weather.
What is less known is that the road is already connected and integrate communications capabilites, it is the basis of what is called “smart mobility”. Indeed, the road on which we drive is already networked with roadside equipment and traffic management centers. Real-time vehicle detection systems are the cornerstone that drives all the processes of this network, for a dynamic and fine but particularly agile steering and that is today’s “Smart Mobility”.
The road will go further in this direction, which is confirmed by the March 2018 study of Leonard (VINCI Group), which shows that roads and equipment will necessarily adapt to changes in automotive technology. It is from this synergy that the new smart mobility is emerging. In fact, the road is already connected and will be more and more so to intensify the constant communication between the vehicles and the road infrastructure itself. Becoming a smart interface through various kinds of sensors, it becomes a source of data that, captured in the field, is used to actuate in real time the road equipment so as to inform the drivers and finally the autonomous vehicles.
Today, the level of connectivity of our roads already powers dynamic traffic management, the fine management of road winter service, the smart management of parking lots, the control of parking times and electric vehicle charging stations.
With more sensors and therefore more different typologies of data, the connected road already helps to smooth the traffic, to safe and guide the vehicles trajectories. The next step is its integration into the communication network between vehicles and roadside equipment to inform, supervise, guide and soon control the routes of autonomous vehicles.
Undeniably, the road of the future is an infrastructure that has not yet revealed its full potential. This bodes the challenge for technologies that will need to be sustainable and that of managing this incredible amount of data that will need to be used wisely, in real time!
* This study was conducted with a sample of 1064 people, representative of the French population aged 18 and over, constituted according to the quota method, in terms of gender, age, socio-occupational category, category of agglomeration and region of residence. The interviews were conducted by self-administered online questionnaire using CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) system. The interviews were conducted on November 9 and 11, 2016.
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