A PROJECT COMBINING INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
Called ADORE, for Autonomously Delivered Orders from Restaurants at EPFL, this test explores autonomous technology in its multiple dimensions: robotics, computing, mechanics, telecommunications, interactions with road users… Coordinated by Durabilité EPFL and in partnership with the Restaurants and Shops unit (RESCO), it tests the technology with the autonomous electric shuttle delivery of goods or meals, according to different scenarios that will evolve over the weeks.
One metre wide and just under 3 metres long, it is no more than 1.8 metres high. It is fully electric and equipped with more than 15 sensors, 5 cameras, a touch screen and a satellite reception antenna using new technology capable of determining its position precisely in real time. It cannot carry people, but contains 22 code-locked compartments on each side that can hold the goods to be transported. Its speed can reach 50km/h but on campus it is restricted to 6km/h and will be constantly chaperoned by a student. Designed by the Chinese company Neolix, the vehicle is provided by the Swiss Post.
The autonomous shuttle will run between the Rolex Learning Center, the Esplanade, the Starling Hotel and the student accommodation the Estudiantines. Stops with information panels have been installed at the different delivery points.
THE THREE PHASES OF THE PROJECT
From October 12 to October 22, operators and users of the campus were able to familiarise themselves with the newcomer. The vehicle drove in real-life situations, autonomously on the marked route programmed into its guidance software.
In this first phase, the shuttle ran between the Esplanade, the Starling Hotel and the student residence from Monday to Thursday from 11 am to 1 pm. Stops with information panels were installed at the delivery points.
On October 26, the vehicle began delivering meals to a selection of participants. The shuttle went to pick up, again independently but accompanied, the food provided by the Takinoa restaurant at the RLC. In addition to the Esplanade and the Starling hotel, the shuttle served the Estudiantines. The pre-selected people chose a niche and a delivery location. 300 metres from the stop, the shuttle sended a text message to the recipient to warn them of their arrival and the access code to the locker containing their cold meal. Another SMS signaled its arrival. The shuttle also collected the washable dishes from the day before. Alongside the technological objectives (management of orders, locations, delivery times, etc.), the interest of this phase was also to evaluate the delivery experience of the participants.
From November 30, and for two weeks, the delivery of meals was extended to the entire EPFL community. At the same time, scientific projects in collaboration with EPFL laboratories are being developed. They concern in particular the optimization of routes, the security of communications and social acceptance. Coordinated by the EPFL Transportation Center, these research projets will continue for about two months.