The global smart cities market could reach $820.7 billion by 2025, according to MarketsandMarkets, and that’s up from $410.8 billion in 2020. An important driver of smart-city growth will be the demand for smarter transportation solutions. In fact, MarketsandMarkets’ data suggests the smart transportation segment accounted for the largest market size in 2020, and it’s likely to continue to grow considering urbanization trends and continued environmental concerns that are prompting businesses, individuals, and city governments to invest in ways to reduce their carbon output.

Autonomous vehicles will be an important part of the future of smart cities and their smart transportation systems. Allied Market Research predicts the global autonomous vehicle market size will be $556.67 billion by 2026. Factors influencing this market include the development of smarter cities that aim to decrease traffic congestion and emissions, as well as increased demand for IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity in cars. However, hurdles such as component costs, government regulation, and concerns over cybersecurity remain for the AV (autonomous vehicle) space.

A new partnership will power an autonomous shuttle fleet in Peachtree Corners, Ga., home of Curiosity Lab—a 5G-enabled autonomous vehicle and smart city living laboratory. Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners features a three-mile test and demo track to explore emerging technologies like AVs. The partnership between Peachtree Corners Partners and T- Mobile will bring the fleet of autonomous shuttles to residents this fall. The fleet, called PAUL (Piloting Autonomous Use Locally), will feature the Beep autonomous mobility solution, and it will operate along Technology Parkway, stopping at popular destinations like hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and more.

The PAUL autonomous shuttle fleet includes autonomous EVs (electric vehicles) from Navya and Local Motors. Peachtree Corners says the PAUL fleet will offer top-notch safety thanks to Beep Command Center capabilities, continuous human monitoring, and T-Mobile-powered C-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) infrastructure. The partnership will demonstrate the importance of advanced 5G and the low latency, high bandwidth, and high-speed connectivity it delivers in a real-world environment. Each shuttle features a 5G gateway capable of transmitting key telematics data and facilitating that all-important interaction between the vehicles and the 5G-connected infrastructure. It’s this realtime interaction between sensors, machines, and people that will deliver the benefits of AVs to smart-city environments like Peachtree Corners.

What makes this a groundbreaking partnership is the fact that PAUL offers Level 4 and 5 autonomy—high automation and full automation on the SAE’s (Society of Automotive Engineers’) scale of 0-5 automation levels. In Levels 4 and 5, the vehicle’s automated driving features will not require a human to take over driving at any time. In fact, in SAE Level 5 of driving automation, a vehicle can drive itself under all conditions. However, in the case of PAUL, Beep’s Command Center offers the human oversight needed today to ensure a staff member can intervene in the case of an emergency. It’ll be an important testing ground for this technology to operate in the real world, ultimately accelerating adoption into the mainstream and earning critical trust from stakeholders and the public.

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