ULTIMO puts CCAM at heart of discussion at TRA

From 14 to 18 April, the world of transport reseach headed to Dublin for the Transport Reserch Arena (TRA). ULTIMO was also present, putting CCAM at the heart of the discussion with various sessions covering the deployment of AVs from a holistic perspective.

The panel session ‘Automated Vehicles in the Public Transport Mix’ was organised jointly with the SHOW project and saw project coordinators and technical leaders discuss the state of the art of AVs in public transport and possibilities/challenges for operators and authorities. Moderated by Daria Kuzmina of UITP, one of the key topics was user acceptance and change of the workforce when deploying AVs. ULTIMO Coordinator Lars Abeler spoke about the challenges that will arise when operations without a (safety)driver on board will truly start.  “This is something that has not really been tested on a large scale. For example, the communication-to-supervision center is a totally new role and there is little experience. This means that deploying larger fleets of AVs means intense training of staff in new areas, which can be a challenge for operators. This also applies to the maintenance personnel, who for example might not be used to using the costly sensors as used in automated fleets.”

The topic of workforce was also highlighted by Guy Fournier, Scientific Advisor in ULTIMO, who mentioned the large drivers’ shortages in the sector. “It’s not about adding to unemployment, but rather about addressing the shortage. All over the world operators are dealing with shortage of staff: automation can be a huge solution here. And automation will of course also create other types of jobs. ”

In the same session, panellists touched upon the quality and readiness of services. Guy Fournier: “A survey done in AVENUE showed that about 50% of car owners are willing to give up their car if we would be able to provide good, automated mobility services integrated in a MaaS. This means that many people would be open to use AV services, which in turn would lift a large financial burden for many households seeing the car is – after housing- often one of their biggest financial strains.” This statement was confirmed by Maria Gkemou, Technical Lead in SHOW: “It’s not about the technology we’re providing, people don’t really care so much about that. It’s all about providing service that people want to use.”

SHOW Coordinator John McSweeney concluded with highlighting various cases where indeed automated mobility services saw a large uptake by citizens: “in SHOW, we have seen much success with first mile last mile services. In Frankfurt we ran an on-demand service in a neighbourhood that lacked public transport before as buses were not suited for the narrow streets. This service, which ran for example between the medical center and the supermarket, was very popular particularly among the older population. We saw a massive adoption of the service by passengers, simply because it made their lives easier.”

No progress without collaboration

On Thursday 18 April, ULTIMO took part in the session ‘Success Factors and Added Value of International Cooperation in the Context of Inclusive CCAM Service’. Coordinator Lars Abeler took to the stage alongside speakers of the University of Tokyo, CERTH, CCAM Expert Jane Lappin, ERTICO and UITP to discuss the diverse approaches that drive cost- efficient and inclusive automated shared mobility solutions. Jane Lappin of Blue Door Strategy and Research recapped well the reasons why international collaboration is so vital for the deployment of CCAM services, namely to advance harmonisation, create a competitive sector, and to serve the research interest. “When we join forces across borders and we apply the same impact assessment framework to our research and development, we get twice the experience, and twice the confidence.”

Furthermore, Manabu Umeda from University of Tokyo highlighted their collaboration with the ULTIMO and SHOW projects, explaining how through their Cool4 initiative they will exchange lessons learned and best practices with the EU initiatives. You can read more about this collaboration here.

Focus on research and networking

ULTIMO also put the focus on research, with multiple papers being presented at TRA. On Tuesday 16 April, Centrale Supelec’s Wale Arowolo presented the paper ‘Governance of automated vehicles in urban transport system: a case study of Oslo region, Norway’ in the session on case studies of sustainable innovation. On Wednesday, partners CERTH, Siemens, and tpg dived deeper into their paper ‘CCAM for the users; Matching the user needs with vehicle capabilities in ULTIMO project’.

Furthermore, Pforzheim University also presented two papers: ‘Scenario-based Analysis of Automated Mobility Service Costs in Urban Areas – The Case of Oslo’ (presented by Babacar Charly Beye) and ‘Driving Toward the Future: Assessing Electric Automated Vehicle Deployment Scenarios in Suburban Areas – A Case Study of Grorud Valley, Norway’ (presented by Nicole van den Boom).

ULTIMO partners Pforzheim University and Deutsche Bahn attended the EUCAD Symposium, which served as the perfect backdrop to network with other CCAM Experts. At the opening of EUCAD, the element of security was highlighted by the Director General of DG R&I Signe Ratso. She said that people’s trust in AV services is something vital to consider, whereby we should not only look at the trust of the AV system, but also towards the people with whom you use the vehicle, thus the perception of safety.

Finally, ULTIMO materials were also shown on the UITP stand. This included a video created by Ovo and ZF on ULTIMO LaaS use-cases. UniGe, TPG, OVO and ZF are working together in innovative use-cases, exploring the possibilities to exploit AV used in public transport, for goods transportation, during off-peak hours for passenger transport.

TRA 2024 proved the perfect platform for ULTIMO to showcase its progress, discuss with CCAM experts on the challenges of our sector, and decide on the way forward. We are already looking forward to TRA 2026!