French infrastructure and transportation engineering group, Egis, has just signed two contracts for autonomous rapid transit vehicle projects in the USA and United Arab Emirates.
Driverless shuttles are considered to be one of the urban transportation solutions of the future. To develop these solutions, highly advanced research in infrastructure engineering and mobile robotics is being conducted in numerous countries around the world. Particularly suited to dense and congested metropolitan areas, Egis will be working on two schemes to deploy rapid ‘people mover’ systems: a project on the Bluewaters artificial island in Dubai, and a project in the US city of Jacksonville, Florida.
Bluewaters is a modern, family-oriented island destination that boasts residential, retail, dining, hospitality, leisure and entertainment facilities, and is home to the world’s tallest and largest observation wheel: Ain Dubai. An automated ground rapid transit (GRT) system will connect Bluewaters with the Dubai Metro in a journey time of under five minutes. Using a dedicated 1.7 miles (2.8km) long road with two separate lanes, running mainly on an elevated structure, it will offer shared travel to between 6 and 24 people per vehicle, modulated according to the time of the day. Its capacity thereby offers scalability ranging from an on-demand system during off-peak hours, to a system that can carry up to 2,500 people per hour per direction during peak time.
The Automated People Mover (APM) transportation system will be supplied by the Dutch company 2getthere. Working in partnership with the Parsons and Atkins consultancies, Egis will be providing design and construction engineering services for the road, a station, and the stabling and maintenance depot/control center complex, together with overall project integration. The Bluewaters GRT project constitutes a world first in the use of driverless shuttles for the provision of mass transit services. During rush hour, the planned GRT system offers capacities comparable with those of a light tram.
Through its Ultimate Urban Circulator project, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) aims to modernize its rapid transit system. This ambitious project consists of transitioning from its current automatic low-capacity system crossing the city, the Jacksonville Skyway people-mover that was built more than 30 years ago, to a new transit system based on autonomous vehicles. JTA therefore launched a consultation process to commission a study on this project to fulfill its specific needs, plan its implementation over time, and benefit from the best possible technologies.
Alongside its American partner Louis Berger, Egis is tasked with producing the design study for this driverless vehicle transportation system, which will be based on an array of existing technologies. This project, the second in the USA for the Louis Berger/Egis joint venture, is the first-ever project in which a people-mover transportation system is to be replaced by driverless shuttles.