Technology development is happening fast and autonomous vehicles in our streets will soon be a familiar sight. To optimize the use of autonomous buses for public transportation, they need to be accessible and easy to use for all residents. In the past, strong efforts have gone into the research on the technical aspects of autonomous mobility. However, regarding the deployment of these vehicles, in particular for their use by children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, more research and insight is needed.
Decision-makers need to be better informed about the user-specific requirements for the use of autonomous buses and the optimal operation of these services, so they can provide apt mobility solutions.
To investigate this knowledge gap, researchers from Austria, Belgium and Sweden have now started the collaborative project CATAPULT (Policies for inclusive autonomous mobility solutions for cities). Together, they will develop new methods for testing, developing and learning about different tools that will support the supply of user-friendly transport. The results will be used to inform and aid decision-makers and politicians at local, national and European level. Out of 86 proposals, this is one of 15 projects to receive funding through JPI Urban Europe (part of the EN-UAC program). The kick-off took place in the spring of 2021.
“By addressing the societal challenges of enabling inclusive and accessible mobility solutions for the future, this project provides a vital contribution and shall support planning processes” says Nora Spiegel, AustriaTech who is the project manager and coordinator for the CATAPULT-project. “The consortium in CATAPULT is diverse and our interdisciplinary approach will produce a novel co-creation process that presents an added value to mobility (and social independence) of people with restricted mobility options.”
Nora continues: “Our objective is to support decision-makers, so that the public transport of the future is accessible to everyone. There is a variety of tools and aids that can support people with mobility restrictions in their daily journeys. But politicians and planners need support in the optimal design and integration of these tools in mobility solutions. We will develop a co-creation process with a a serious game at its core, that will better inform these decision-makers and raise awareness of the key components in the deployment of inclusive mobility solutions. Our findings will also be published in policy advice and guidelines to adapt the political framework and mechanisms in the supply and design of mobility services.”
A lot of research on citizen engagement and co-creation processes has been done in the past in the participating countries and the knowledge is now being utilized and developed networks are activated in order to be able to influence together.
The goal of JPI Urban Europe is to create capacity for a sustainable transformation of cities and urban areas. Sustainable transition to attractive, resource-efficient and economically viable cities is supported by cross-border coordination on urban development research and innovation in close cooperation with EU Member States and the European Commission.
Through JPI Urban Europe, European research funders jointly fund collaborative projects in urban development. The initiative was taken in 2010 with the support of the EU and the ambition to coordinate resources and tackle these societal challenges in Europe.
Duration of the project: 2021 – 2023
Budget – €794,123
Participants: AustriaTech (Austria), Factum (Austria), KU Leuven (Belgium), RISE (Sweden)