the new language of the autonomous vehicle




The economic crisis derived from Covid 19 seems to have slowed down the arrival of the autonomous car, although many of the technological advances that were tested in prototypes about 10 years ago are now a reality (emergency braking, lane-keeping systems, dynamic speed controls, etc.). But the need to decarbonize the automotive sector has finally prevailed, making electrification a priority for the arrival of the 100% autonomous car.

Despite this, brands do not stop investigating, and ways like
count in your project folder curious prototypes like those we have seen in Paris at an event that the firm has called “Urban Collëctif Citroën”.

These are not private vehicles. In reality it is not even “cars” as we think of them today, but an association between an electric and autonomous platform called “Citroën Skate”, and a series of “Pods”, or cabs that are coupled to this platform as if it were a piece of Lego.

By separating the platform from mobility services, this concept offers the possibility of maximizing the use of autonomous technology by multiplying service offerings. The Citroën Skate can move the different existing Pods, by a specific lane, since in principle it has not been designed to share the road with the rest of the vehicles.

As explained to us Vincent Cobée, General Manager of Citroën, «We think that this new Citroën concept could redefine the framework of urban commuting: shared, electric and autonomous. With the solution that we presented together with Accor and JCDecaux, we invented autonomous mobility for all. And with that objective «this mobility model is based on a fleet of The Citroën Skate, transport robots that move continuously around the city associated with Pods that facilitate unique experiences «

This technological solution is based on a fleet of driverless, autonomous and interconnected vehicles that move around the city and allow increasing traffic flow by at least 35%. To this end, these vehicles, designed to circulate in specific lanes, are equipped with level 5 autonomous technologies, that is, they can circulate without a driver and completely autonomously. The combination of ‘Skate-Pods’ is not intended for private vehicles as the costs would be prohibitive. To make this mobility accessible despite the high cost resulting from the deployment of autonomous technologies, the principle is based on an intelligent fleet management with an extremely flexible maximized use, according to demand.

On this basis, the first three “Pods” have been developed. Two of them have been developed together with Accor and highlight two of the luxury brands in their offering: Sofitel with the “Pod Sofitel En Voyage” and Pullman with “Pullman Power Fitness”. The third has been developed together with JCDecaux: «JCDecaux City Provider».

El “savoir-faire” francés histórico

The first Pod fruit of the collaboration between Accor and Citroën, Sofitel En Voyage is an invitation to travel around the city in exceptional conditions of comfort and services and with a perfect view to the outside. “Sofitel En Voyage” is a parallelepiped with a glass structure and marquetry with an intimate atmosphere but completely open to the outside.

The organic look of wooden marquetry and a historic French ‘savoir-faire’, modernized here thanks to new technologies and high-precision laser cutting create a body that evokes the city of Paris at the same time, French furniture and creative haute couture. This outstanding marquetry work subtly highlights the luxurious and modern atmosphere while filtering the light through a system of screens.

In contrast, the use of glass shows a cozy and warm interior, sophisticated and refined, in shades of orange from floor to ceiling, evoking a discreet conception of contemporary luxury.

Equipped with automatic sliding doors, the Pod allows two or three passengers to be comfortably installed on board, with your suitcases housed in a specific space. A strip of LEDs allows users to provide all kinds of information: personal messages, news, weather, arrival time and journey time.

Everything is designed to suit personal tastes of each user, with a bar that opens like a flower with a single touch to offer drinks and snacks, magazines, fresh flowers, a sound system, induction chargers and a configurable lighting system.

A gym on wheels

The Pullman Power Fitness Pod displays eThe Pullman brand’s approach to fitness contemporary highlighting the new “Pullman Power Fitness” program.

Damien Perrot, Global Senior Vice-President Design de Accorexplains that “each Pod is a bold, modern interpretation of car and interior design. They have been developed exceeding the codes and standards currently used by the industry, with precision engineering, high-end materials, pure aesthetics, and, above all, a redefinition of use and functions. Thanks to this bold and unprecedented collaboration, both in form and substance, we will be able to create endless opportunities in the future.

In the medium term, Pods could be booked through the ALL – Accor Live Limitless app, with services and partnerships offered within the Accor ecosystem.

An accessible canopy that moves around the city

The third of the proposals shown, JCDecaux City Provider, is the result of the partnership between Citroën and JCDecaux. It is also a reinterpretation of urban public transport, in which it is the marquee that moves, picking up passengers who have requested its service through a mobile phone App.

The cell proposes to the occupants the best route between the starting point and the destination, optimizing time and distance.

As a specialist in urban furniture JCDecaux proposes pure forms, with timeless design, even something retro (personally it reminds me of the designs of the first cars), sober and functional, and offers comfort and space on board. It combines different materials and textures to comfortably accommodate passengers; textured black, satin aluminum gray, over-tinted windows, but also light wood and greenery.

JCDecaux City Provider propone two spaces facing each other under a landscaped roof: an open space, protected from the elements by an awning and a closed, glazed and luminous space thanks to ambient lighting with an original arrangement. Up to five people can be accommodated inside to move in a bright and welcoming environment with great visibility of the city. Inside, users have USB sockets to charge your portable devices. Two interactive screens enrich the mobility experience with useful information and services to plan and monitor journeys, have information on the city’s cultural, tourist or associative life, discover new places and receive proposals for activities towards which the cell can be directed if asked.

«Skate», the autonomous scooter

All these structures are located autonomously on the platform designed by Citroën, the «Skate». It is a kind of scooter capable of circulating in all urban centers on specific protected lanes, autonomous, electric and rechargeable by induction. It can work almost continuously, recharging automatically when necessary in specific charging bases.

The Citroën Skate is the mobility platform that allows Pods to move according to needs: goes under pods in as little as 10 seconds to start the contracted trip.

It is equipped with all the necessary technology for moving transport or logistics cells that, in this way, they do not need to incorporate redundant and expensive equipment. Thus, it makes it possible to make the autonomous driving technology profitable, unlike the private vehicle, parked 95% of the time and which, if this technology is available in the future, it will never be able to take advantage of it to its full potential.

It integrates all the intelligence and technology necessary for movements in autonomous and electric mode: batteries, electric motor, radars, lidars, etc. Its maximum speed is limited to 25 km / h, even 5 km / h in areas where safety must be ensured, but this speed can be adapted according to demand.

It has a small size with dimensions 2.60 m long, 1.60 m wide and 51 cm high, which allows it not to saturate the public space.

One last detail is the sphere-shaped tires. The revolutionary wheels have been developed by Goodyear. It is an omnidirectional “Eagle 360”, made up of spherical tires. Integrating small electric motors, offer the robot full 360 ° freedom of movement to move in all directions with the same principle as a computer mouse, to be able to turn around and sneak into the smallest spaces without worrying about maintaining a certain sense of movement.

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