Echosmile, autonomous shuttle on demand: a new step
April 16, 2021 | News
The echosmile shuttle is back in service at ArchParc! After a first conclusive step in the fall of 2020 and a survey rich in user experience feedback, the autonomous and on-demand shuttle has been perfected with new technological innovations to better serve its users. Two new stops will also be offered south of the park to serve the food-truck locations and the park’s Convention Center.
In 2018, ArchParc got involved in piloting the Interreg France-Switzerland “echosmile” project. This project aims to understand how the technological potential of autonomous vehicles should be used to meet a need for collective, sustainable, and on-demand mobility services (www.echosmile.eu). Project partners RATP Dev, its subsidiary Alpbus and Bestmile, joined forces with ArchParc to prepare this experiment’s deployment in September 2020. Three stages of experimentation are taking place throughout 2020 and 2021 in a living and working environment, the business park ArchParc, in Haute-Savoie, in the heart of Greater Geneva. This experiment is a world first as the echosmile shuttle runs a transport-on-demand service in autonomous mode in abundant traffic, in the heart of a business park which is also a motorway interchange, giving access to the village of Archamps, the departmental road and the park’s private road.
On April 19, 2021, the experimentation’s second step will start with a new version of the shuttle with increased performance.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, not all activities can be carried out by teleworking, and the 170 companies in the park need to provide their 1,600 employees with a minimum of daily services. In light of this, the park managers (ArchParc –SMAG) and the service operators (Alpbus –Groupe RATP) have chosen to maintain the echosmile service. The first stage inaugurated in September 2020 has ended as planned last December. During these three months of in situ experimentation, the echosmile shuttle completed more than 1000 km. By traveling the streets of ArchParc in autonomous mode, the shuttle covered the “last mile” without ever reporting any incident affecting road safety. From an energy point of view, operators noted that the electric shuttle never consumed more than half of its battery in a day.
To support the second trial run from April to July 2021, surveys were conducted with operators and with users to adjust the service and improve its reliability.
Based on this targeted feedback, the echosmile shuttle is entering the second phase of its in situ and in vivo experimentation with new services to satisfy users and operators.
Bestmile is providing its turnkey solution to automate, manage and optimize the demand-responsive service. Thanks to the mobile applications developed by Bestmile, customers can book their ride in a few clicks.
Anne MELLANO, co-founder of Bestmile: “This new echosmile step allows us to introduce a true on-demand transport software application in which the user will be able to interact directly with the service in a completely secure process. It is a full-scale and very concrete test of what is often called the “robot-taxi.”
Patrick VAUTIER, Marketing and Innovation Director of RATP Dev: “As a transport service provider, and despite the Covid crisis, we have been able to serve real use cases while offering the best of technologies of partners and suppliers. With this approach, we are approaching the second stage of this full-scale experimentation of autonomous and on-demand mobility. “
André VERCIN, President of ArchParc:“ This new phase of the experiment allows us to offer more services for park users who will now be able to use the echosmile shuttle to cross the motorway bridge and thus go to the south of the park, to their seminar and vocational training center at the Center de Convention by ArchParc or even be dropped off in front of food trucks with dedicated and identified stops.“
Ferdinand VERMILLARD, director of AlpBus Fournier: “Overall, our operators, volunteers, and enthusiasts quickly took charge of the maneuvers of this electric vehicle packed with technology as well as the supervision exercise in autonomous mode. The essential point of improvement for this new period of experimentation will be to increase the service’s commercial speed to deliver an attractive solution for last-mile mobility and integrate perfectly into its environment.
Benoit PERRIN, General Manager of EasyMile, said: “For this new stage of the echosmile experiment, we have made improvements to the behavior of the shuttle, which will allow it to be more efficient during operations especially in difficult weather conditions. The Archparc site is one of the first to benefit from these new developments. “
Bestmile empowers public and private mobility providers to plan, launch and operate highly efficient fixed-route and demand-responsive transportation services. A complex arrangement of advanced algorithms enables the Bestmile Fleet Orchestration Platform to automate and optimize operations for ridehailing, microtransit, autonomous shuttles, and robotaxi services.
Founded in 2014 with a mission to go the extra mile for mobility, today, Bestmile’s pioneering life-enhancing mobility solutions are deployed around the world, moving thousands of people every day.