A Conceptual Ecosystem Solution to Transport System Management

Future Mobility - FinEst Large Pilot - FinEst Centre for Smart Cities

Raivo Sell.jpg

Project Leader

Prof. Raivo Sell

Krister Kalda.jpg

Project Manager

Krister Kalda

This project idea is to create an x-road of mobility solutions. People living in rural areas and need transportation, can order on-demand first mile/last mile self-driving buses or use electric scooters to get conveniently to the bigger transport corridors, where general public transport will service their needs of getting to where they are heading. This system needs several non-existent services and solutions, that have to be developed in collaboration with the city and transport people hand in hand with scientists. 


Estonian local governments need a substantial number of autonomous vehicles to cover a certain area with such, fast and convenient, on-demand service. This leads us to develop, how it would be locally possible to rebuild used and out of service electrical cars into autonomous vehicles suitable for such service. Self-driving vehicles and autonomous systems research group leader, professor Raivo Sell, who is also leading this pilot project says: "We have built autonomous vehicles and they are rolling on the streets. Now it's time to take them to the next level - integrate into the real traffic, to service people.

This project gives useful opportunities in collaboration between scientists and local governments to develop and build these solutions and at the same time solve some bottlenecks for city and county inhabitants to service their transportation needs, make the community more sustainable in a long run and ultimately improve the living standards of all of us." 


For the next step, this project needs a solution where any user could easily order an autonomous vehicle to their doorstep. At the same time, this program has to secure a possibility to buy tickets and see the schedules of their full transport needs from home to the end destination (or any stations in between). This project plans to integrate these different means of transport up to buying tickets travelling outside the country borders with a ship or plane, for example to Finland, if that is needed. But of course first and foremost to the main transport hubs in the city. 


The team has decided, that within this pilot, these crucial mini-hubs will be in (1) Rae County; (2) Port of Tallinn and (3) Ülemiste City (where they are also planning the Rail Baltic station). Hence the partners, that have come together for this project. But later, when the pilot has proven successful and the project is done, we will have a whole system with a toolkit, that can be applied to any cities and suburbs around Estonia or in any other country of the world with similar needs. 


On top of the main solution, we are finetuning also the public transport traffic between these mini-hubs, so that it will be smoother and faster, by using adaptive traffic control systems. Setting up sensors, embedding AI, using smart traffic signs and traffic lights etc. There is a lot we can still develop to make the traffic work better for both the people and the cities and integrating adaptive traffic control systems will endow the whole project. 


The final outcome of the project will be a future city model tested in the real urban environment and an implementation toolkit for cities and urban areas all over the world. Project main partners are the City of Tallinn and Rae County, as well as a wide circle of external partners in government, private and non-profit organizations. Jaagup Ainsalu, Mobility Manager in Tallinn says that this project is valuable because in Tallinn they have got the same goals to integrate different kinds of mobility as one service and to build a working MaaS solution for the citizens. Rae County deputy manager Tanel Tammela comments that "It is extremely valuable for Rae County to participate in this project, as it characterizes exactly the residents of our municipality who have settled in during the last ten years - innovative, forward-looking and supporting/using demand-based services. Transportation options should be available when you need them, not when the schedule says." 

The pilot project is 100% financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.