Smart Transport

Autonomous projects need a tighter focus, says StreetDrone

StreetDrone, the autonomous solutions company, has said the transport industry needs to tighten its scope on projects rather than looking for “one-size-fits-all solutions”.

Mike Potts, StreetDrone chief executive, said larger projects like Google's Waymo and Uber have either scaled back their autonomous projects or missed delivery deadlines. 

StreetDrone is currently running live trials in central London and Oxford. It is focussing purely on inner city testing.

Potts joined a panel discussion at CAV Scotland in Glasgow on November 13 and 14 and the company is currently exhibiting at CoMotion in Los Angeles and Automobility LA until November 21.

Potts said: “We at StreetDrone focus on zone 1 — the inner city, where autonomy will be legislated into existence by city-states to provide quality of life solutions to congestion and pollution. 

“But this use case is significantly different to zone 2, in suburban areas, where the physical and environmental context is radically different, the mobility platforms and their ownership models are diffuse, and so the differences between use case are more significant than the commonalities.

“In zone 3, outside of city boundaries, the use case transforms again and demands an adjacent but ultimately, a wholly different approach.”

Potts said the industry would likely make quicker progress with autonomous trials by bringing more firepower to a smaller set of tasks or as he describes it “advocating cracking a smaller nut with a larger hammer”.

He said that this approach is needed in combination with an open door policy on collaboration and sharing data.

Collaboration and an open architecture approach is not a new idea, but Potts said it is uniquely suited to the scale of the challenge presented by society’s autonomy ambitions. 

He said: “What makes an open approach even more appropriate are the complex, multi-stakeholder environments that are part of a successful autonomous mobility solution in a city context — think transit companies, utilities providers for power and connectivity, municipal authorities, real estate owners and businesses.

“With the benefit of hindsight, it seems very unlikely that a closed architecture approach would ever be appropriate when there are so many vested parties who need hands-on access to the solution.”

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