European cities face four main mobility problems: congestion, land use, safety and environment. One of the main causes of such problems is the car-ownership rate. The centres of large cities address this issue combining efficient mass transits with car restriction policies, but peripheral areas and smaller cities remain dominated by private cars.
CityMobil has demonstrated how automating road vehicles can lead to different transport concepts, from partly automated car-share schemes through CyberCars and PRT, to BRT which can make urban mobility more sustainable.
However, CityMobil has also highlighted three main barriers to the deployment of automated road vehicles: the implementation framework, the legal framework and the unknown wider economic effect.
The CityMobil2 goal is to address the main barriers highlighted by CityMobil and finally to remove them. To ease the implementation process CityMobil2 will remove the uncertainties which presently hamper procurement and implementation of automated systems.
CityMobil2 features 12 cities which will revise their mobility plans and adopt measures that are proved to be effective automated transport systems. Then CityMobil2 will select the best 5 cases (among the 12 cities) to organise demonstrators. The project will procure two sets of automated vehicles and deliver them to the five most motivated cities for a 6 to 8 months demonstration in each city.
To change the legal framework CityMobil2 will establish a workgroup with scientists, system builders, cities, and the national certification authorities. The workgroup will to deliver a proposal for a European Directive to set a common legal framework to certify automated transport systems.
Finally, an industrial study will assess the industrial potential of automated systems on European economy and any eventual negative effect and make a balance of them.
Pioneering automated road transport
Despite the growing popularity of automated transport systems, take-up is lagging because of the operational and legal frameworks currently in place. An EU initiative plans to remove barriers with the rollout of driverless vehicles.
Interest in automated transport schemes is growing in Europe because they can make mobility more efficient, safer and sustainable. Transferring this success to cities, however, is difficult mainly due to the systems' dedicated infrastructure and fragmented European legal framework.
Thanks to the EU-funded 'Cities demonstrating cybernetic mobility' (http://www.citymobil2.eu (CITYMOBIL2)) project, a prototype automated transport system is being tested in urban environments. The four-year initiative is building on CITYMOBIL, which emphasised new and emerging transport models.
During the first reporting period, 12 partner cities carried out a study to determine the possibility of implementing an automated transport system in their region and identified locations where such a system would be most optimal. The project members defined common minimal technical requirements to make the systems interoperable.
In 2014, the first of three large-scale demonstrations was implemented in the French coastal town of La Rochelle, to be followed in 2015 by urban areas in Greece and Switzerland. Six vehicles will operate at each site for at least six months. Several small-scale demonstrations will also be carried out with less than six vehicles.
The team is conducting research on the technical, financial, cultural and behavioural features and consequences for land-use policies and how new systems can be integrated in current infrastructures in various cities.
Project partners are also working on a legal framework that will certify transport systems based on automated road vehicles.
CITYMOBIL2 will ultimately help city dwellers to embrace transport innovation as a viable transport option. Regional and local authorities should also recognise the potential of vehicle automation as part of their public transport networks.