On-Demand-Transport of Bergisch Smart Mobility
Since last fall, anyone saying "Hol mich app!” in Wuppertal – merely the equivalent to “pick me up” with a play on words included – has been getting into one of the six electrically powered London cabs operated by WSW mobil GmbH, which are on the road in on-demand traffic. Six vehicles from the manufacturer Levc TX, which offer space for up to six passengers, are on the road for this purpose in selected Wuppertal neighborhoods. The "WSW Cabs" serve Uellendahl-Katernberg, Elberfeld and Elberfeld West. More than 132,000 people live in the area, which covers just under 50 square kilometers.
In this test area, the WSW Cabs can call at 4,000 fixed points where passengers get on and off. Unlike cabs, customers are not picked up or dropped off directly in front of the door, but at the nearest stop with a high station density in the immediate vicinity.
On-demand transportation is intended to act as a complement to public transportation. "On-demand can be a solution for neighborhoods that previously could only be inadequately connected by buses," WSW CEO Markus Hilkenbach said about the introduction of the service. Other public transport companies are also looking into "on-demand" public transport services. In Berlin, for example, there is the "Berlkönig" model of the Berlin transport company BVG.
Mobility via app
The completely digital offer runs via the "Hol mich! App” that users download onto their smartphones. The app in real time shows where the WSW cabs currently are. When a ride request is registered, the user receives information about the arrival time of the vehicle. In the background, an algorithm calculates the most favorable route with the corresponding stops depending on passenger volume, desired destinations and available vehicles.
The app is also used to settle the fare. Payment can be made via Paypal or credit card. It is cheaper for the second and third passengers who are registered for the trip at the same time. As a Corona protection measure, every second seat in the vehicles must remain free for the time being, so that a maximum of three passengers can be transported. The operating hours of the light blue WSW cabs are Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Through the wide time window, the project partners hope to obtain detailed figures on user behavior.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart
Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia
A pilot project with prospects
Thanks to their small turning circle, the vehicles can be used particularly flexibly in road traffic and reach stops that cannot be served by buses. With the WSW Cabs and the "Hol mich! App", WSW is participating in the "Bergisch Smart Mobility" research project of the three cities of Wuppertal, Solingen and Remscheid, the Bergische Universität Wuppertal, the Bergische Struktur- und Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft and the company Aptiv Services.
The project is limited until the end of 2021. Based on the experience gained in Wuppertal, however, the project partners want to develop digital mobility solutions that can be transferred to other municipalities.
The software for the "Hol mich! App" was developed by ViaVan. The company is also responsible for operating the fleet. ViaVan is Europe's leading provider of on-demand public transport solutions and already operates similar systems in cooperation with transport operators in Berlin, Bielefeld or Mainz. The Wuppertal cab center is also involved in the project. As part of the research project, all the players want to work together in constant exchange to develop a perspective for the operation of an on-demand transport system in Wuppertal.
Bergisch Smart Mobility
realizing a real laboratory on AI-based mobility as part of the Digital Model Region “Bergisches Städtedreieck”. The applications tested there are to be transferable to other municipalities as future-proof model solutions. WSW's on-demand transport is part of the "Smart Vehicle Architecture & On Demand Service" sub-project.
In 2019, Economics Minister Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart gave the go-ahead for "Bergisch.Smart.Mobility: Artificial Intelligence as an Enabler of Tomorrow's Mobility" alongside the "Competence Center for Autonomous Driving" as one of two projects under the banner of the mobility of the future.
With the expertise and cooperation of scientific institutions and automotive companies in the region, the two projects are driving forward the development and application of autonomous driving - with support of 15 million euros from the state. This is intended to create an essential building block for the transformation of North Rhine-Westphalia's automotive and mobility industry as part of the "Digital Model Region NRW" program.