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Paris car sharing innovation
13 February 2013
Autolib’ brings car-sharing to Paris area
Autolib’, an innovative car-sharing service introduced in Paris, is using an intelligent system based on Microsoft technology in the cars and at the points of registration, rental and service.
The technology for the Autolib’ programme, which was introduced in December 2011 by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoé, consists of five major elements.
This includes three kinds of kiosk for registration, rental and vehicle charging; an in-car system for driver access, navigation and customer assistance; and Ambassador handhelds to monitor vehicle location, charging levels and maintenance.
Registration kiosk. 70 freestanding enclosed kiosks located throughout Paris and its suburbs enable new users to join the program within minutes. The kiosks, which run Windows Embedded POSReady, enable registrants to scan a credit card and valid driver’s license, connect to a customer service agent via videoconference, and within minutes receive an RFID-enabled membership card that grants access to the 1,750 Bluecars in the Autolib’ fleet. More than 60,000 subscribers have enrolled in plans ranging from one day to one week, month or year.
Rental kiosk. Autolib’ members check in with a membership card and use the Windows Embedded POSReady-based touch-screen system to reserve the most fully charged car near their location – which may be right next to the kiosk or a short distance away if no car is available at the nearest station. The kiosk provides a map and directions; if the nearest station is empty, the kiosk shows the closest stations at which a car may be reserved, or lets members connect to a customer service agent if additional assistance is needed.
The Autolib’ subscriber is using something that is shared with everyone in the region, but when they are in the car they feel like it’s just for them because it recognises them
Syndicat Mixte Autolib Charging station. There are 1,750 electric cars available at 750 charging stations throughout Paris and its surrounding suburbs; each station has parking spaces for four to six cars. Display lights at each charging station indicate if a car is available (green), reserved (blue) or unavailable for technical reasons (red). Waving an Autolib’ membership card at the driver’s door unlocks the car and the cap to the charging cable. The driver can then disconnect and stow the charging cable, start the car, and drive away.
In-car system. The Autolib’ in-car system, running Windows Embedded Standard, greets the driver by name upon arrival and sets the temperature and radio station in accordance with the driver’s saved preferences identified during the registration process. The driver can access GPS navigation via touch screen or be connected to a customer service agent to find a parking place or report any problems.
Centralised Autolib’ data management system. A team of 400 mobile ambassadors, using Ambassador handheld devices running Windows Embedded Handheld to connect to the Autolib’ data system, circulates through the region to inspect and repair cars and assist members who are involved in accidents. Cars and kiosks are connected to a management system that incorporates Windows Server and SQL Server with proprietary software, enabling ambassadors to monitor car locations and charging levels in real time so that they can locate drivers who need assistance or move charged cars to locations where they are needed. The system also enables software and firmware maintenance and updates.
The Autolib’ service is designed to reduce traffic congestion and emissions in Paris and its surrounding suburbs by making energy-efficient vehicles available as drivers need them, decreasing reliance on privately owned gas-powered cars. The Autolib’ Bluecars can be parked in any of the 750 dedicated stations and 3,900 charging points.
“Autolib’ is a new concept, an expression of modernity,” says Pierre Avril, deputy mayor of the city of Malakoff and vice president of Syndicat Mixte Autolib’, the Paris-area municipal alliance that manages the program. “And as a programme that improves the environment it is helping us modernise but also protect the historical background of Paris. This is also true for the surrounding cities that have adopted Autolib’, like Malakoff.”
“The Autolib’ subscriber is using something that is shared with everyone in the region, but when they are in the car they feel like it’s just for them because it recognises them,” says Arnaud. “Subscribers can have a personal experience without having to own their own car.”