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Autonomous Public Transit Conference - Cities gather in Antwerp with high tech transportation providers and researchers

Press Release   •   Sep 12, 2016 11:30 EDT

Podcar City is organized by the International Institute of Sustainable Transportation (INIST) of California, the Advanced Transit Association and a Belgian partner, Crossroad.

In parallel with the conference, the Podcar City design competition is organized. During this two-day idea incubator, students and professionals are challenged to define innovative solutions for Antwerp’s mobility issues. They will be inspired, assisted and challenged by local and international experts and have the opportunity to interact with the conference attendees to test their ideas.

Information about the conference and the design competition is available at www.podcarcity.org/antwerp.

“Podcars are similar to the driverless trains we see at airports and other facilities around the world,” said Christer Lindstrom of INIST. “But these are built as smaller cars for about six to eight passengers. Initial systems are expected to fill the need for short trips or for connections between transit modes. We expect the technology to eventually evolve into larger systems. Elevated tracks will allow them to operate without impacting street traffic and autonomous public vehicles using existing roads are already deployed at various locations all over the world.” Conference details The conference will open on Monday with a visit to the Autonomous Rivium Park Shuttle in Capelle a/d IJssel, Rotterdam. This visit will offer a perspective on the economic feasibility, technical challenges and operational reality of podcar systems using autonomously driving vehicles.

Tuesday registration begins at 8 a.m. The program begins an hour later with an introductory session by Vice Mayor Koen Kennis, introducing Antwerp’s mobility roadmap and the role that Smart Automated Mobility on Demand can play in it. Other speakers representing government, business, academia, and other professional organizations will come from across the US, France, Australia, Sweden, Italy, the UK, Poland, Mexico, South Africa, and the Netherlands.

Before the conference ends on Wednesday, ATRA’s second Martin Lowson Paper Award will be presented. (http://www.advancedtransit.org/library/news/the-second-martin-lowson-paper-award/).

Program highlights include: - State of the art autonomous transit systems from the industry around the world - Antwerp’s vision on Mobility supported by a live virtual 4D model - Various aspects of Mobility on Demand systems - Safety and Security - Enabling technologies and a view on the Flemish/Antwerp innovation scene - iMinds’ City of Things approach - Autonomous driving technology - Electric vehicles - Ride Sharing

- Digital Payments (a.o. De Lijn’s (Flemish PTO) digital payments roadmap) - Multimodal transit platforms Why a conference about Podcars? According to Christer Lindström “Podcars are similar to the driverless trains we see at airports and other facilities around the world. In general, though, podcars are built as smaller cars for about six to eight passengers. Initial systems will fill the need for short trips, for first/last mile transport, or for connections between transit modes. We expect the technology to eventually evolve into larger systems. Autonomous public vehicles using existing roads are already deployed at various locations all over the world; elevated tracks will allow them to operate without impacting street traffic.”

Peter Van Laer, Managing Director, Crossroad, is pleased to be part of the Podcar City Conference. “The initiative fits perfectly with our knowledge and experience on mobility services. Our public transport experts will be present to share their knowledge on new ways of moving people, both during the Conference as in support of the Design Challenge.”

The Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, California has been a long term supporter of new sustainable technologies that help address first and last mile challenges. “ATN’s are designed to reduce congestion, improve mobility, and mitigate negative environmental impacts. Such technology is a viable alternative in California as we prepare for the advent of high-speed rail,” says Karen Philbrick, PhD, Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute. 

ABOUT INIST - Sustainable Transportation, Energy and Urban Development

Today’s new urban populations expect a high quality of life at the heart of their urban experience. Improving the quality of life for city inhabitants is, however, challenging. Finding suitable land for infrastructure projects, developing community support, obtaining stakeholder consensus, securing financial resources, and overcoming restrictive protocols -- these are the challenges which professionals face. In the process, citizens want to be empowered to participate in designing their local surroundings. Recognizing these challenges, an international team of professionals has formed the International Institute of Sustainable Transportation, INIST. INIST will initiate, finance and define Urban Change projects on a non-profit basis, assisting in the transition from life based on fossil fuels to a sustainable future based on renewable energy and automated transportation for all. INIST is responsible for the International Podcar City Conferences.