4 Teams Selected to Envision the Future of Autonomous Transit in NYC

via Blank Space

via Blank Space

Four teams have been selected as finalists in the “Driverless Future Challenge.” Organized by Blank Space with the City of New York and NY Tech Meetup, the competition asked teams to envision future strategies for implementation of autonomous transit in New York City. 

Participants were tasked with evaluating the future of autonomous transportation through the four principles outlined by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC initiative:

  • Growth – Improve city infrastructure, modulate traffic, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, eliminate traffic lights, autonomous deliveries.
  • Equity – Making sure all citizens benefit from autonomous technology, focusing on accessibility, focusing on transit deserts, creating new jobs.
  • Sustainability – Reduce need for parking, curbing emissions, increase carpooling, introducing micro-transit, new green spaces and bike lanes, renewable energy sources.
  • Resilience – A more durable and safer transit system, reducing drunk driving, “Vision Zero,” pedestrian-first, faster emergency services.

Entries were received from more than 25 countries, proposing ideas for everything from driverless food carts and a fully-autonomous MTA transit system, to enhanced use of NYC’s 311 system as a driverless dispatching center, to Link NYC Wifi stations that become stops for autonomous micro-buses. The four finalist teams were selected by a multidisciplinary jury featuring top architects including Jeffrey Inaba (Inaba Williams), Odile Decq (Studio Odile Decq) and Jürgen Mayer H. (J. MAYER H.).

The four finalists include:

sAVe / IBI Group

Description from the architects
sAVe is a Service platform that offers multi-modal ridesharing services that will include automated vehicles as they become available. sAVe provides trip service in underserved neighborhoods and connects those residents to public transit hubs that they cannot otherwise access conveniently. In order to meet the needs of all users, sAVe rides can be found and booked via smartphone app, community kiosk, or by speaking with a customer service representative. The service offers the benefits of leveraging existing public infrastructure without increasing the number of private vehicles in already-congested areas, providing a social opportunity with associated rewards incentives to residents who choose to affordably ride-share with other community members, and gradually introducing AVs to new populations who may not otherwise get to experience or benefit from this technology.

Public Square / FXFOWLE Architects with Sam Schwartz Engineering

Description from the architects
Public Square provides New York City an adaptable, responsive, and environmentally friendly way to rethink its streets and reclaim space for pedestrians. Public Square is a plug-and-play system of interlocking unitized squares, roughly 8’x8’ in size, with built-in infrastructure, and a wide variety of surface module programs, including seating, retail stands, play equipment, and eco-friendly green space. The transition to driverless vehicles will require incremental change, and Public Square allows the public realm to be responsive to changes in how we drive, however fast or slow those changes happen. Public Square can be configured to meet the needs of a particular neighborhood today, and reconfigured as technology advances

Urban Oasis / Lily Shi, Yodai Yasunaga, Jiaming Zhang 

Description from the architects
Urban Oasis is an innovative take on autonomous vehicle technology to tackle the issue of food deserts in NYC. Current solutions, such as Green Carts, are bringing fresh produce to these neighborhoods but are not perfectly mobile or reliable. Urban Oasis aims to reinvent the system by creating a new grocery shopping experience that brings goods and services directly to consumers. It specifically takes advantage of the autonomous car technology to create a system that is trackable, mobile, and adaptable in order to increase reliability, reach under served neighborhoods, apply to other needs and scales.

QueueY / Daniel Hui, Danil Nagy, Spencer Wright

Description from the architects
QueueY is a system for managing high-volume AV pickup & dropoff locations. It consists of curbside hardware and a multi-sided platform for managing last-mile transit. Without infrastructural coordination, the introduction of Automated Vehicles will create congestion with regards to pick up and drop off locations. QueueY establishes a coordinated zone around transit hubs, and converts curbside parking space to a dedicated loading and unloading area. As AVs approach the terminal, they’re directed to the next available station and allowed to park, and charge if necessary. The added technology within each hub further improves the commuter experience., including a weatherproof space to wait for rides, improved signage and communication between riders and their car, and ride accessibility for commuters without access to the internet on their own device.

The four teams will present their proposals at the Pitch the City Event on July 11th, where a winner will be selected live by a panel of NYC Government Officials from the Mayor’s Office, the Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Transportation, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Department of City Planning, and a representative from New Lab, NYC’s preeminent technology and manufacturing hub.

Find more details about the event below or at the challenge website.

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