What is the impact of automated vehicles?

What is the impact of automated vehicles?

09/20/2023 - 13:27

Nowadays, autonomous driving is a hot topic in most of our domains. In logistics, in facility management and in the built environment, the transition to more self-driving vehicles is taking place, for cleaning, last-mile transport or in warehousing. As this is the main topic of our professorship Smart City Logistics, ABEL staff and students participated in a demo session together with industry partners and Dutch Automated Mobility (DAM) to discuss the latest developments in automated mobility and its impact on public spaces.
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Two automated vehicles were shown during the demo. The MacroStep vehicle is equipped with a food vending machine, used for spreading queues at a canteen, festival or stadium. The Delivers.ai robot Rosie is a more classic last-mile delivery robot for differential suppliers such as supermarkets and parcel services. But while the technology is mature, its applications on public roads in our country are limited. From that perspective, the BUas campus is the right consolidated area to take these vehicles on the road.

In recent months, DAM has carried out a research project in collaboration with Logistics Community Brabant (LCB) and Rewin as part of a DDSZ project (Digitaal Dataplein Zuid-Nederland). The main objective is to outline an application with an automated vehicle, preferably in public spaces. A demo session was proposed to share knowledge and showcase the latest technical capabilities of two manufacturers. In addition, the demo at the BUas campus was the right place to discuss the impact of automated vehicles in public spaces.

Tim Klein, project manager on behalf of DAM: "demos like this are always a great way to discuss the impact of automated vehicles. We invited strategic partners and students to show the latest developments and share knowledge. The main question that pops up mostly is about problem solving. What is the added value of an automated vehicle? And that is a good question to debate. We think these vehicles contribute, for example, to more effective last-mile deliveries, sustainability, but also to shorter queues at events."

This is endorsed by BUas professor Hans Quak: "We see many manufacturers working on a technical solution, but at BUas we focus on the impact on logistics and built environment. For example, we are very interested in the user acceptance and usability of these types of vehicles. Together with students, we want to investigate and discuss the impact on safety and logistics, but also on ethics; do you feel comfortable when facing a delivery robot?"

The demo marks the end of the DDSZ project, but talks have started from the professorship to develop a research proposal for a longer-term project with automated vehicles on the BUas campus.