"By giving people the chance to see our vehicles and touch them it helps them imagine what the future can be like, making driverless vehicles no longer just an abstract concept."
Autonomous vehicles have attracted interest from around the globe, providing the futuristic solution to solve the ‘first last mile’ challenge for many of us using public transport. The ‘robot bus’ was created by the French company Easymile and three years since being established has offices in France, Singapore, and Denver in Colorado. To find out when this futuristic vision could become a reality, Dave Songer speaks to Lauren Isaac, Easymile’s Director of Business Initiatives. The first person to be employed by EasyMile in North America, Lauren has an engineering background and has worked in the transport industry her entire career. After becoming very interested in the world of driverless vehicles, Lauren began to study how local governments could plan for driverless vehicles and developed this as a guide for local governments.
Dave Songer (DS): What makes your EasyMile vehicles different from electric vehicles?
Lauren Isaac (LI): Our technology represents the future. Our vehicles are shared, driverless, and electric, so it leverages the latest technologies to solve transportation challenges and align with many of government’s goals: improved safety and mobility while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions).
DS: How have you seen popularity increase over the past year?
LI: Excitement builds on a daily basis as we expose our vehicle to more and more people around the world. By giving people the chance to see our vehicles and touch them it helps them imagine what the future can be like, making driverless vehicles no longer just an abstract concept.
DS: At what stage will we expect to see autonomous vehicles as significant mobility solutions in our cities?
LI: Our driverless shuttles are already operating in cities around the world today, helping to solve various transportation challenges. For example, as of August 11th in Arlington, Texas, EasyMile’s driverless shuttles transport people from a sports stadium to a parking lot, while in Paris, EasyMile’s (@Easy_Mile) driverless shuttles transport people between two train stations. In Singapore, our driverless shuttles have been transporting people around the Singapore Botanic Garden, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
DS: What have you learnt from the demo stages to reality?
LI: Many crucial things. For example, it’s very important to establish strong partnerships amongst all project stakeholders because there are many different groups of people that haven’t traditionally worked together, including representatives from cities, academics, operations and insurance companies. Secondly, it’s important for organisations to establish goals for their driverless shuttle projects early on, in order to understand what they’re trying to accomplish and then measure that accordingly.
DS: How do you hope the business will evolve?
LI: We want to be the leading provider for driverless software in vehicles around the world. Our aim is to contribute to the solution for addressing the world’s mobility challenges.
DS: Finally, what is your favourite rail journey?
LI: It would have to be the Amtrak NYC to Washington DC line, purely because it reflects a memorable time in my life.
DS: Thanks very much Lauren!
Lauren Issac is one of our many expert speakers at SmartTransit USA (October 24th-25th 2017, Baltimore, MD) where she will be joining senior executives from MTA Maryland, LA Metro, Charlotte Area Transit System, Amtrak, New York City Transit, Uber and many more.
Our last 5 Minutes With... Paula Hunter, Executive Director at NFC Forum.
5 minutes with… You? Each Friday the team here at SmartRail World bring a 5 minutes with... interview. This fun, fast-paced feature will help you get to know more about personalities across the industry, their ideas and experiences and of course their own favourite rail journey! Want to take part? Email: Dave@SmartRailWorld.com to find out more.
Interested in urban mobility and autonomous vehicles?