Less pollution, noise, traffic jams and more efficient public transport, this is what the city of Paris dreams of. To achieve this, it wants to become a real Smart City. That is to say, relying on more connectivity and new technologies to improve its urban services. Experiments are already underway on a 3.5-kilometer route between the stations of Lyon, Bercy and Austerlitz. We had a glimpse of it around the Ministry of the Economy and Finance.
The project is developed in collaboration between the capital and Paris2Connect. This is a group of five companies born in 2018. It includes the telecom hosting specialist ATC France who is the program representative, the safety and road traffic management expert Aximum, the telecom equipment manufacturer Nokia , the transport agency RATP and the world leader in connected lighting Signify (Philips Hue).
Sensors and antennas nestled in streetlights
To strengthen road connectivity without clogging the urban landscape, it was necessary to install a shared infrastructure, capable of concentrating different needs in single points. Everything has therefore been integrated into lampposts and parking lights. In particular, there are nine masts of a new kind called “smart poles”.
They provide lighting, but also collect data using multiple sensors and host 4G and 5G mobile phone antennas. “They can be equipped with cameras, a Lidar, acoustic and thermal sensors, electromagnetic wave sensors or even air quality”, explains Christophe Bresson, the communications director of Signify in France. “The interest is to collect all this very different data from the same place and the same platform”, he adds.
The Quai de la Gare metro station is also equipped with three cameras which analyze traffic flows on the boulevard in real time. This should make it possible to anticipate traffic congestion or to detect malfunctions more quickly.
Remote-controlled delivery robots
Among the services that could rely on these infrastructures, delivery. Paris imagines, for example, that tomorrow trucks will park on the outskirts and no longer enter the heart of the capital. The goods would then be transported into the center by cargo bike or aboard small robots like the TwinswHeel.
This autonomous electric machine which moves on wheels can transport between 50 and 300 kilos depending on the model. Usually, TwinswHeel evolves autonomously, being followed by a safety driver. In the capital, this time it is a question of making it evolve by being controlled remotely from Lyon thanks to the 4G network, and eventually 5G. “This would make it possible to reduce the staff mobilized on site and to lower its cost », says Benjamin Talon, co-founder of TwinswHeel. However, it is not easy to drive a robot from a distance. The journey immediately becomes less fluid, as we can see in this video:
Vehicles that communicate with the lights
It is also a question of making connected vehicles interact with traffic lights to facilitate their passage. A system that therefore works on demand. Nine crossroads have been equipped for this purpose. The car is identified when it passes over a detection zone. When it approaches, it triggers a green light or prolongs it if it is about to turn red. As soon as it reaches the acquittal zone, traffic resumes its course, as can be seen in this video.
“The beneficiaries could be emergency vehicles or convoys of athletes for the 2024 Olympic Games, for example. It will be up to the city of Paris to set the criteria for priority vehicles ”, tells us Miguel Mauger from Aximum.
The next step is to set up before the end of the year an autonomous RATP shuttle that will serve the three stations in the south of Paris.
In the meantime, a call for experiments is launched for start-ups who would like to experiment with their solution in real conditions in Paris, on this famous route. “Today we showed what has already been done. Now we are looking for new potential and new uses ”, promises Arnaud Calaudi, project manager at the Innovation Pole of the General Secretariat of the City of Paris.