The emerging technologies of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) are both foreseen to undergo a dramatic growth in the near future. Many local administrations are currently fostering innovation by addressing technical challenges towards EVs massive deployment, particularly regarding the charging infrastructure and the grid (diffusion and standardization of charging plugs and communication protocols and upgrade of the electrical system to meet the increased power demand). However, by failing to account for the disruptive impact that the diffusion of CAVs might have in a very near future, they risk to largely invest in EV-based fast obsolescing territorial infrastructures and to later lack the capability to address the possibly radically different needs created by a wide diffusion of CAVs.
Indeed, if diffusion of CAVs will mostly take place in terms of electric, shared vehicles within Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) frameworks, thus leading to shared ECAVs, as many future scenarios currently hypothesize, deep transformations in urban-level mobility patterns would occur as well. For instance, ECAVs would no longer be parked for 95% of the time but would increase their running time, to serve one customer after the other. Such a transformation would require to rethink the role and function of urban spaces and the interactions with and between components of the electric grid system, and to define new business models, by power and transport providers and possibly also totally new players.
To support urban and regional institutions to tackle the aforementioned critical challenges and steer the transition towards ECAVs, EVA research project aims at exploring innovative territorial infrastructures capable of effectively supporting these emerging technologies in road mobility.
The project will start by identifying the most likely future scenarios for the diffusion of ECAVs, depending on the diffusion of EVs and possible ownership schemes for CAVs (private vs shared property). Then, the two most likely scenarios will be simulated on the case studies by means of regional traffic and grid models, and their effects will be evaluated against a Business As Usual scenario, which only envisions the diffusion of EVs.
During the all project activities local stakeholders and communities will be actively engaged, allowing to highlight the pros and cons of different scenarios and favouring later adoption and/or acceptance of the envisioned infrastructure solutions.
This will allow to explore and assess:
how future diffusion of ECAVs would affect urban planning and design, particularly under a Sharing Economy framework;
how to manage peaks in power demand due to a wide diffusion of electric mobility in the smart grid system, through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) power strategies;
how to optimize EVs charging station infrastructures bypassing investment in fast obsolescing ones; and
will lead to the identification of new business models.
As final project outcome, in Summer 2022, the project will develop a set of guidelines aimed at supporting regional authorities in the transition towards ECAVs and at optimizing the related infrastructures.
EVA project focuses on two regional pilot sites:
Canton Ticino, Southern Switzerland
a wide area with four small-to-medium size urban agglomerations that constitute an urban continuum characterized by sprawl, while the remaining mountain areas are characterized by low population density.
Bolzano Province, Northern Italy
a small-to-medium sized city and its surroundings, characterized by polycentric small density settlements.
The project has four technical work-packages [WP2 – Pilot Regions, WP3 - Mobility of Tomorrow, WP4 – Impact Evaluation and WP5 – Regional Transition] that only partly work in a finish to start logic; a flow back of information is envisaged where a working package needs input from another work-package. The order of these technical work-packages is based on the initial information flow, their execution demands coordination and bilateral information exchange.
On the other hand, the project has three non-technical working package [WP0 – Project Management, WP1 – Knowledge Community and WP6 – Dissemination and Communication] that will be active from the begging to the end of the project.
Project Key Dates
EVA Research Team
The project engages academic institutions, utilities and start-up companies from Switzerland, Italy and Austria.