Oslo hires consultancy to prepare for autonomous driving future

27 March 2018 Consultancy.eu 4 min. read

In anticipation of the autonomous vehicle push across Europe and the rest of the world, Norwegian transport authorities have begun preparations to optimise the introduction of the new technology. Oslo’s transport authority Ruter has called upon Danish consultancy COWI to develop a model to determine the implications of autonomous mobility.

As an increasing number of vehicle manufacturers begin to experiment with autonomous vehicle technology, the new form of mobility is expected to gather substantial momentum over the next decade. In keeping with the novelty and perceived risk of the concept, adoption will be a gradual process.

Experts suggest that automation is likely to be a partial entity at least until 2025, after which fully autonomous vehicles are expected to flood the markets. Thereafter, the market for autonomous vehicles is expected to skyrocket, as the 30 million of the 81 million vehicles sold across major markets in 2030 will supposedly be autonomous.

Despite the underlying reluctance amongst consumers, the new form of mobility is a reality for the future; one that has been embraced by Norwegian authorities. Since 2008, public transport in Oslo has been organised, coordinated, and procured by Ruter; a transport company owned partly by the Oslo municipality (60%) and partly by the Akershus County Council (40%).

Earlier this year, Danish consulting firm COWI was called upon by Ruter to examine the latest in autonomous mobility, and offer suggestions on how to ease-in this new paradigm. The firm was established in Copenhagen in 1930, and has since been providing solutions in the domains of engineering, economics, and environmental science.

The firm has a presence across Scandinavia and across the globe, currently involved in over 14,000 projects, being operated by upwards of 6,600 employees. For this particular project with Ruter, the firm has conducted its preliminary assessment, and the project is now set to move into its next phase, wherein the firm will develop a model to implement autonomous technology in the public transport arena.

Oslo hires consultancy to prepare for autonomous driving future

The firm’s objective is elucidated by the project manager at Ruter, Trude Flatheim; “The job is to develop a transport model to help us understand the implications of new forms of transport. The models will be based on traditional modelling tools, but supplemented with a module which can simulate changing trends brought about by the introduction of driverless vehicles, for example.”

The plan is being made to avoid a potentially disastrous introduction of such technology. As explained by an expert at COWI, autonomous public transport could lead to one of two possible scenarios. The first is the desired outcome, wherein shared, driverless vehicles would eliminate the need for 90% of private vehicles, thereby optimising space, as well as monetary and environmental costs.

The other scenario is potentially disastrous, wherein the principle of sharing does not pick up in tandem with autonomous technology, resulting in a serious burden being placed on the road network. Therefore, an integral part of COWI’s task will have to do with pre-determining consumer behavior in response to the move.

Sveinung André Kvalø, project manager and expert in electrical mobility said explains, “As the switch to electric cars happened so fast, it is not inconceivable that the same could be true of driverless cars. Autonomous vehicles will have a huge effect on our lives, on businesses and on the environment. That will not necessarily happen in a positive way if we do not plan for the change-over early enough,”

The software for the new model will be offered by the PTV Group; a German software firm specialising in mobility, traffic and logistic solutions, termed under the firm’s unique Mobility as a Service brand.

Commenting on the project, Business Manager of Traffic for Benelux and Scandinavia at PTV, Robin Huizenga said, “With our PTV MaaS Modeller, we can map and analyse exactly these kinds of scenarios, Many cities are simply waiting to see how autonomous driving will develop and are running the risk of sleepwalking through decisive future developments. We are looking forward to supporting the public transport operator in Oslo in setting the course for tomorrow’s mobility today and then perhaps even developing a specific business model.”