Saga consortium has found an innovative solution for the FABULOS challenge. They are combining self-driving buses from different manufacturers over APIs to one platform for the transport operator to control. This solution will be piloted in urban environments in various European cities between April and October 2020.
The Saga consortium consists of four partners: Halogen AS, Forus PRT AS, Spare Labs Inc, and Ramboll Management Consulting AS. Last summer the Saga consortium proceeded to the second phase of the FABULOS pre-commercial procurement, where the aim is to ensure that the prototypes developed by the four awarded consortia meet the project requirements. In the first phase of pre-commercial procurement the consortia presented their solutions to meet the FABULOS challenge: development and testing of smart systems capable of remotely operating fleets of self-driving buses in urban environments.
The FABULOS project interviewed Ingjerd Jevnaker Straand from Halogen about the Saga consortium’s solution.
Tell us more about your cooperation in the consortium
Halogen was initially contacted by Forus PRT who at that time was in operation with an autonomous shuttle in the business area Forus outside Stavanger, Norway. Both companies had been looking for opportunities to collaborate and we got to start it in FABULOS. Halogen has expertise in safety-critical design, design of control rooms and human-centered service design, which is critical to public confidence in autonomous systems. Just remember how in the past, there used to be liftmen to operate elevators, so we need to actually build the same level of trust in autonomous vehicle systems, in order to ensure user adoption.
We got Rambøll Norway to join from a business perspective and also Rambøll Finland, for smart mobility and traffic engineering expertise. We were impressed with Spare’s on-demand service that has been successfully deployed on three continents. They had worked with the local Norwegian public transport provider Kolumbus, so we asked for a meeting and they were eager to join in. All of us have an interest in enabling technology and interface design for autonomous vehicles in operation.
What is the solution your consortium is offering?
Our vision is a scalable and vehicle-agnostic solution. We believe that in the near future there will be a range of autonomous vehicles to choose from. Currently each manufacturer is setting up their own control systems and routines, which means that a transport operator will be locked in to one type of shuttle bus.
Our target is to develop a platform which connects to the vehicles over APIs, so we can connect to and control different kinds of vehicles in the same system. This means that our solution is primarily software-based, but we have to do a lot of work to push the different vendors to standardize and develop the APIs that we need to monitor and dispatch from our control room setup.
What does the future of autonomous traffic look like?
We have hopes that autonomous shuttles will mean that there is also no need to own a personal car, because public transport would be so much more convenient for the passengers. There could be different kinds of automated vehicles, for different purposes. Some slow-moving vehicles for parcel delivery and last-mile transit, and some faster vehicles for highway transport.
There will probably be human-driven vehicles as well for a long time to come, just because our infrastructure is not designed for automation. Also, humans are just better at reacting to changing and unstructured information. Furthermore, in many cases, it is just nicer to deal with humans. Yet, automation and driving assistance will hopefully lead to a higher quality human contact. We need to design our systems so that humans stay in the loop for example to keep things running smoothly. This is why in our solution we have designed a service and a process where humans function as emergency drivers and that are responsible for monitoring and dispatch of all vehicles.
How do you feel about pre-commercial procurement as an innovation tool?
It is a tool that allows for rapid experimentation and development across organizational borders. I like the fact that there are competing solutions, we all feel the pressure of making it to the next phase! If a city had just gone for one supplier, it would also be risky for the city, it is much better to allow competing solutions to develop, and then select the best solution in the end.
What is your goal in terms of the FABULOS project?
Our primary goal is to be able to develop the integrations to at least two vehicle manufacturers and be able to both monitor, dispatch and control the vehicles during the field testing in phase 3! The field testing in mixed public traffic and in normal operation for 50 days in two cities across Europe is ambitious enough, so meeting that goal in a safe and efficient manner, with happy passengers, is an important goal.
In this series of articles, FABULOS presents the four consortia participating in the second phase of the FABULOS pre-commercial procurement.
The Saga consortium consists of four partners:
Ramboll Management Consulting AS
FABULOS (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation System) is a research and development project to establish and to deliver a systemic proof-of-concept on automated last mile public transport as part of existing transport system of urban areas, based on the use of self-driving minibuses. The FABULOS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and runs from 1 January 2018 until 31 December 2020. The FABULOS project has partners in Estonia, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal.
Photo: Nikolai Øvrebekk, Halogen
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