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Autonomous vehicles: how does it feel to be transported without a driver?

Autonomous vehicles: how does it feel to be transported without a driver?

Are you interested in knowing an autonomous vehicle? Get on board next Monday, September 17 with our experts Agustín Aguerre and Shirley Cañete to test this great technological innovation in transport with potential practical development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Shirley and Agustín will share their experience as users of an autonomous shared-use vehicle that is already in operation. Get exclusive details on this innovative technology in urban mobility, its applications, challenges and opportunities.

This trip will be broadcast through our Facebook page (http://Iad.bg/h2Mi308TQzc) next Monday, September 17 at 12: 00hs Washington DC - EDT. We invite you to participate in this experience by previously sending your questions before Wednesday, September 12. We count on your participation!

We anticipate this self-driving trip with interesting links to our blog (http://Iad.bg/BbqC30lHkod) and to this interesting post on intelligent transport systems (http://Iad.bg/vj5330lHkvg).

Some already had the experience

If a few weeks ago you had asked me about autonomous vehicles, I would have answered that they only exist in Hollywood creations, such asMinority Report, or in l =The Jetsons,. I would also think that it takes some time to see them in action, because they require specialized infrastructure and technology, such as 5G technology. But, sometimes, reality surpasses fiction, and today, after having made a tour in an autonomous public transport vehicle for the first time, I wonder: why couldn't they also be on the streets of Managua?

Together with two colleagues from the Transportation Division of the Inter-American Development Bank, I made an exploratory visit toBabcock Ranch, a living laboratory of innovation in Fort Myers, Florida, where autonomous, electric and public vehicles are a more sustainable and more convenient alternative than the private vehicle to mobilize within this community of 20 thousand people. In cooperation with the companyTRANSDEV, this community offers the perfect controlled environment to implement an autonomous vehicle pilot project.

I confess that when I got on, the first thing I did was look for the steering wheel and pedals, but there were none, I only found chairs and large windows. Then I accepted that nothing I knew up to now was similar, so I tried to forget the steering wheel, the driver, the pedals and, incidentally, the sensors, cameras, lidars, and I enjoyed the trip, contemplating the landscape, without worrying about the rest .

The small bus goes slowly, it is in a controlled environment with little traffic, and they tell me that it has certain limitations. For example, it does not work in snow, dense fog, or heavy rain as the sensors would detect multiple objects and emergency stops (false positives) would be generated. Neither can it be mobilized in skyscraper areas or tunnels due to signal availability problems, but it does go down the same street as the vehicles of the residents of the urbanization, the children and the rental bicycles, which are particularly expensive in this place. Being a pilot, the vehicle has an operator on board. The operator can apply an emergency brake in case of any complication, and can also take manual control if required. I reflect on the fact that this is a constant learning process, and that like any evolutionary process it has to start, be piloted, roll through our streets and join our urban reality.

I continue on the journey and they explain more about the technology to me. While this is happening, both the operator and the person in charge of presenting the project to us are very relaxed, relying on technology while I still stare in disbelief and go back to looking for the steering wheel and pedals. "This vehicle detects obstacles, without identifying them and is programmed to stop before them, we have not had any accidents, since we started our first pilot, almost 11 years ago”- says Yigit Topcu, Transdev's Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration Manager for North America. We advance about 50 meters and suddenly we stop. An abrupt emergency stop. I look ahead and to the sides without seeing any obstacles. Why did it stop? Here we return to the reality that it is an experimental pilot. The operator tells us that “sometimes these emergency stops occur, it may be that a small butterfly has crossed or that the wind has brought the grass on the side of the road.

"Well let's move on", –Yigit says, as we get back on track after the emergency stop. "This pilot works in metro mode, that is, it goes along a predetermined route and stops at all stations, but it is expected that we can test it in dynamic stop mode and then On - Demand”Yigit adds. For my part, I imagine that the dynamic stop is like the operation of an elevator, in which it stops only where it is indicated, and the on-demand mode will have a dynamic route and will only go where the passengers indicate it.

Perhaps, for those who are reading this article, it is difficult to believe that this really becomes a widespread use, perhaps it seems an isolated case, but in reality since 2005 TRANSDEV has mobilized more than 2 million passengers in its autonomous vehicles and has traveled more of 350 thousand kilometers. This pioneer company in autonomous mobility is implementing pilots in several cities in France (Civaux, Rouen, Rungis, La Rochelle, Issy-les-Moulineaux), the Netherlands (Rotterdam), and the United States (Babcock Ranch, Jacksonville, Gainesville). Another emergency stop? No, we have reached the end of the route and it's time to get off, the doors open gently.

What will be the next city to incorporate this technology? I get out of the autonomous vehicle very excited about the experience. I look at the landscape and feel the humidity of the Florida air that reminds me of Managua. Why not?

Video: The Problem with Self-Driving Cars.. (October 2020).