Cars as we know them have quickly rolled into the very centre of our lives. Nowadays, their omnipresence no longer surprises anyone (or scarcely anyone), and people are driving them for hours each day for ordinary daily movements. Unfortunately, the growing distances that separate suburbs from city cores are increasing the number of vehicles, which in turn causes gas consumption to explode and traffic accidents to multiply.
In spite of all this, over the years, autonomous electric shuttle transportation has come a long way, and is now part of the solution. In line with our mission to improve and simplify the daily lives of Quebecers, our Smart Living Lab has chosen to take things even further, and to propose a project that goes beyond the demonstration initiatives launched in various cities.
Concretely, besides setting up an autonomous shuttle bus service (accommodating a dozen people without a driver) on a defined circuit in the Quartier de l’Innovation, our goal is to meet real needs formulated by the community. We are planning to place the shuttle service and its route at the disposal of researchers and businesses towards the development, prototyping and piloting of additional projects (e.g. sensor installation, validation of various connectivity protocols, ethics, and citizen involvement).
The Smart Living Lab is therefore bringing forward the notion of an in situ research and development pilot project carried out with and for users towards the development a variety of use cases that could be beneficial to the community in the short and long terms:
- Optimizing autonomous vehicles: to reduce the carbon footprint and relieve road congestion (therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions) for a more vibrant and greener city.
- Developing traffic accident reduction technologies: since human error is the cause of 94% of all road accidents, it is good to know that autonomous shuttles are not likely to fall asleep at the wheel, get distracted by the phone or drive under the influence.
- Developing functionalities to improve user experience, including interactive service programs allowing passengers to ask questions along the way (e.g. schedules, prices and things to see in the neighbourhood).
Finally, as we are constantly on the lookout for good ideas, we are inviting businesses and researchers to submit projects designed to maximize the potential of autonomous shuttles and, as a result, to improve urban transportation infrastructure as well as the quality of life of all citizens.