Image: shutterstock.com

Easymile: Making the last mile a driverless one

Technology and Business

Phil Brown

Phil Brown

23-03-2020

       

If you have the right driving license and maybe a few additional qualifications, driving jobs are fairly accessible. Aside from the potentially unsociable working hours and health risks that come with sitting in one place and travelling at high speeds for prolonged periods of time, driving work is a key part of global economics. Whether it’s ferrying passengers from home to work or hauling goods across international borders, our drivers are quite literally keeping us alive.

With a high level of accessibility and pretty much consistent demand, it may be interesting to learn that there’s a serious global shortage of drivers right now. In Europe, there were an estimated 150,000 unfilled driving positions last year, with Germany, Spain, Denmark, Norway, France and the UK accounting for 127,500 of them. It seems that as economies develop and job markets become more buoyant, the easily-accessible, low-paying traditional roles like driving buses, taxi or working in haulage are being swapped out for jobs that require more skills.

 

Attracting more workers or promoting driving jobs may sound like the easy fix, but for one company, the solution lies away from recruitment.

Easy mile vehicle
Image: shutterstock.com

Beyond human drivers

As well as servicing the driver shortage by developing their own driverless people movers has been developing the software behind driverless technologies that is aiming to take humans out of the driving seat altogether. says CEO Gilbert Gagnaire. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, Gagnaire goes on to reveal that there are three “levels” that make up the value chain of autonomous vehicles.

 

The first is the selection and manufacturing / conversion of the vehicle platform itself. The second is the design and implementation of the software that allows the vehicle to operate without human control. The third is the operation of the driverless vehicle, working alongside operators like public transport authorities and providing technical support.

 

Although Easymile’s key focus is the second level, they aim to be “at the heart of the ecosystem”, according to Gagnaire.

Easy mile test vehicle
Image: Shutterstock.com

Despite this heavy focus on software and operation, it’s clear to see where Easymile’s market position lies. Currently, Easymile offers three distinct products, all of which are functional, and utility based. With the TractEasy, the application is easy to see from the first glance, with the miniaturised cab and flat rear ‘pickup’ section making it immediately obvious that it’s designed for use in airports and logistics facilities.

 

Then there’s the EZ10, a less-recognisable and boxy little vehicle that wouldn’t look out of place on a trade stand at a Japanese car show. The ultra-minibus is designed to ferry up to 15 passengers around university campuses, airport terminals, car parks or urban and suburban centres, replacing taxis or personal cars. It is designed to cover the ‘last mile’ of longer journeys, hence the naming of the company – Easymile. The EZ10 is packed with smart tech not just from Easymile, but also automotive tech giants like Continental, making it way more than just a drive-by-wire solution already being touted for specialised routes. Using this technology, the EZ10 is road-ready, rather than having to rely on specially designed tracks or pedestrian-free routes.

 

These next-level autonomous utility vehicles all run on Easymile’s EZMaestro fleet management software, which is, in our opinion, Easymile’s golden egg. This software is designed to act as the bridge between autonomous vehicles and the control room, providing real-time data and reports that help to drive safety, efficiency and control over multiple driverless vehicles all running on a single network.

 

Initial easymile testing
Image: shutterstock.com

One HMI to rule them all

This software is fairly unique to the autonomous vehicle world, with the manufacturer of the vehicle also providing the vital control panel that can be configured to create much larger networks containing potentially hundreds of driverless vehicles, often working in unison. Driverless cars have so far been ‘autonomous’, making their own decisions on the journey, whereas Easymile offer an extra-level of control.

 

As well as giving in-depth reporting around efficiency, Easymile say that EZMaestro is about more than just saving time and costs – it’s about creating a necessary, fully-personalised autonomous vehicle ecosystem that, vitally, can still be controlled by humans. It seems that even with the most advanced vehicles, smart software and multiple redundancies, we still can’t quite take our hands off the wheel.

 

Do you think humans should still have overall control of driverless vehicles? Do you think public roads could benefit from software like EZMaestro to improve safety and efficiency? Join the debate here at 2025AD and share your thoughts with the network.

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