By the end of the month there will be the launch of a self-driving shuttle bus on the Brussels Health Campus in Jette. 'Automated Shuttle Service for Brussels Health Campus’ is an Innoviris funded project with a consortium of 3 research groups. The main objective of this project is to facilitate mobility at the Brussels Health Campus.
The Brussels Health Campus encompasses 32 hectares and hosts besides the university hospital also a multitude of other organizations such as Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ERASMUS Hogeschool, Rode Kruis, Villa Samson, a nursery school, student houses and sport facilities (Basic-fit). With 5000 employees, 5000 students and yearly over 500.000 patients, UZB and the Brussels Health Campus is faced with a mobility challenge.
The 3 research groups from two universities (MOBI and SMIT from VUB, and LOUISE from ULB) and the UZB acting as facilitator, aim to answer two central research questions: ‘How can an automated shuttle service facilitate mobility for all stakeholders on private and public domain?’ and ‘What are best practices and pitfalls for organizing a field implementation of a pilot project for autonomous vehicles in the Brussels Capital Region?’.
The selected shuttle bus is an EZ10 model from the French manufacturers Easy Mile from Toulouse. The fully electrically powered vehicle can accommodate 12 people (6 seats and 6 standing places) and is equipped with an access platform for wheelchair users. Thanks to a system of sensors, cameras and GPS, the EZ10 recognizes its route and stops, as well as possible obstacles or unexpected situations. There will always be an operator on board for manual operation in case of a breakdown or obstacle on the set route. Emergency stops switches and sensitive doors complete the safety package.
The shuttle bus will follow 2 routes. The first route will connect the student houses to the main building of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. Therefore the shuttle remains within the campus boundaries and will only be used by students and staff.
The second route will be available in November 2019 and expand to public roads. With a ‘loop’ of approximately 1 km, it will connect the main car parks, the bus stops in the immediate surrounding and the main entrance to the hospital. Besides students and staff, patients and visitors to the hospital will then also be able to use the shuttle.
The shuttle project also fits in with recent developments in research into autonomous driving vehicles and the growing need for sustainable mobility and electric vehicles. The VUB with its research group MOBI has been a leader in research into sustainable mobility and in particular electric vehicles for decades. An electric self-driving vehicle is the logical next step in its research roadmap.