Reduced pollution, fluid circulation, comfort and increased security… Social, environmental and technical characteristics model twenty-first century urban transport. At University Paris-Saclay researchers imagine, for different industrial partners, new forms of agile, sustainable and shared mobility.
The ecosystem is a major issue for automotive manufacturers and the future star of the city 2.0 will be the self-transport vehicle. It is the subject of considerable research and is covered in sensors, capable of analysing the environment in real time, adapting to it and interacting with humans, cars and bicycles that share the same urban space. “Data, algorithms and automisation: the industry designing the connected vehicle is confident we are offering good solutions. We are in partnership with Peugeot, the RATP, Renault and Valeo” summarises Philippe Watteau, director of the Laboratory integration of systems and technologies (List), CEA institute, state-of-theart in scientific fields.
Fitting in with the traffic
This latest newcomer will need to prove thatit is safe and reliable. Cybersecurity cannot be neglected. “The ‘List’ is developing formal analysis methods which will mathematically prove that the embedded software is performing in compliance with safety requirements established by the manufacturer. They will provide protection against intrusions seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the programme.” Start-ups and University Paris-Saclay researchers are both addressing this challenge. Scientists and Bureau Veritas are also working on the certification referential of the vehicles of the future.
Today we can see the technical achievement of the self-transport vehicle everywhere. A shuttle bus without a driver carries CEA personnel. In the neighbouring IRT SystemX, researchers are carrying out tests on several self-transport vehicles. At the test centre of the RATP, the teams from the ‘List’ put on a surprising “intelligent garage” demonstration with no GPS. They fitted a bus with a localisation system using stereoscopic cameras coupled with an embedded, autonomous navigation controller: the bus can park itself in the warehouse without a driver once the daily rounds are finished. This is accomplished accurately down to the centimetre and perfectly safely.
Daring to open new paths of action
However perfect they are, algorithms are not the only paths to innovation! “Mobility needs to be considered globally if we want to provide an appropriate direction for everyone”, explains Dominique Barth, Head of the laboratory Data, Algorithms, Intelligent and Sustainable City (David) at University Versailles- Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. “Traffic flow, economic statistics, health, quality of life and users’ testimonies need to be taken into account when analysing the mobility requirements of the inhabitants of a region. Our research on mobility is based on all this data and our projects implicate laboratories of varied fields.” The data enables the establishment of a diagnosis on the congestion of a road network or to design a solution on several levels: a new itinerary for a bus line, an application giving real-time traffic indications or a decision to invest in territorial development. “A certain amount of ‘virtual’ information can be added to the real data that is provided by the city’s ‘numerical twin’, a mathematical model that replicates the transport infrastructure”. This abstract and global representation analyses the dynamics of the network and the users’ behaviour. Shared car services, free bikes, a bus line with a new itinerary: modelling allows the simulation of the impact of a decision or a new offer before trying the approach in the city and this down to the last kilometre.
Co-piloting multidisciplinary projects
Before reaching its destination, research needs to be conducted in a great number of fields. It involves mechanical and IT engineering as well as economic and social sciences. “We need to anticipate the different usages of self-transport vehicles. They could be shared or have single owners, be rented out directly or by private agencies, anything is possible!” says Jakob Puchinger, Chairholder of Anthroplois, run by IRT SystemX and CentraleSupélec. “The consequences of these choices will influence the quality of the traffic circulation, noise and pollution but also, equal access to public transport”.
In order to come to a decision, researchers imagine different scripts taking into account, as much technical criteria, as social and environmental aspects. Urban space needs to be shaped to enable different means of transport to cohabit while still allowing humans to live. “At Paris-Saclay we are fortunate enough to have complementary skills that are necessary for this research and we can therefore consider all angles”, adds Dominique Barth. “We are very careful as our work also impacts our quality of life!”
∙ G. Hiermann et al. The Electric Fleet Size and Mix Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows and Recharging Stations. European Journal of Operational Research, vol. 252, 2016.
∙ A. Houissa et al. A learning algorithm to minimize the expectation time of finding a parking place in urban area. ISCC 2017.
"Île-de-France territory is one of the most interesting in terms of urban mobility as there is a great variety and density of transport. The dynamic of Saclay plateau encourages collaboration between the different academic and industrial partners."
After earning his doctorate, in 2006, in Austria, then a post-doctorate at the University of Melbourne, Jakob Puchinger spent eight years at the Technological Institute of Vienna. For two years he was head of the team of researchers that dedicated their work to transport and logistics. This IT and optimisation expert came to work at IRT SystemX and CentraleSupélec in 2015. He moderates the Anthopolis chair that is cofinanced by Alstom, Engie, RATP, Renault and the SNCF.