Making use of autonomous and connected vehicles to complement existing mobility solutions has the potential to drastically change the way people and goods move, by offering demand-responsive services with a positive impact on daily living, urban development, and social planning. Many initiatives have been launched in Europe to push for the development of these new services, typically in urban and suburban areas and by deploying electric mini-buses of different sizes (i.e., shuttles, with about 15 seats). However, there is still a need to create more seamless service offers, and also to clarify their potential benefits for society, as recently highlighted by the European Commission.
COMBO’s target is to study the implications, benefits, and impacts on the medium and long-term resulting from the integration of connected and autonomous shuttles with existing transport systems. The project will elaborate a decision-making system to facilitate this integration, by providing (1) an operational deployment plan for mobility operators, and (2) a better understanding of these solutions for society and public stakeholders on the other hand. From a scientific perspective, this approach requires further research on the network architectures on which these vehicles depend, and most importantly on AI and optimisation approaches to propose the most suitable deployment plans based on real constraints and considering multimodal mobility services (bus, train, tram). From a technical point of view, a digital twin approach combining artificial with real data collected from the field will be designed and implemented for the entire country.
COMBO's ambition is to promote and make these solutions widely accepted to achieve operational objectives, such as better anticipating the long-term implications, benefits, and impacts of using these CCAM solutions. COMBO will result in increasing the coordination between mobility, logistics, telecom stakeholders, and end-users by adopting a multidisciplinary approach combining expertise in simulation, communication networks, multi-objective optimization and AI, to ultimately better plan future investments.
COMBO is a collaboration between LIST and CFL, which will provide access to real-time data from his services (transport of passengers and freight), in addition to two autonomous shuttles, to be put on the road in Belval in 2023, to experiment and validate the project's models and potentially bring them to the market.