"The autonomous car will be at the heart of the mobility of tomorrow. It is an exciting field of research, which enables us to take up many technical challenges and explore new uses."
New technologies are broadening the field of possibilities in terms of mobility, mobility that is at the heart of the smart and sustainable city of tomorrow. As tomorrow is prepared today, that is precisely the work of Cédric Seureau, Manager of the “Interconnecting Attractive Territories” research project at the Lannion (Côtes d’Armor, France) Orange Labs.
“It’s a project with a strong focus on urban mobility, both on the network side – for example we are looking at the connected car, soon to be autonomous, and so at connectivity within and between vehicles – and on the service side: how to ease everyday mobility of users”, he explains.
To carry out this vast project, launched by Orange in April 2017, Cédric Seureau’s team is working with a vast ecosystem and in particular with communities. It contributes notably to the inOut initiative, a yearly event initiated by Rennes Métropole, which aims to invent and experiment new mobility services in metropolitan Rennes.
The role of Cédric Seureau and his teams is, for example, to model travel flows thanks to artificial intelligence and Big Data, so as to better organise public transport routes or car sharing services, and to predict journeys.
Making urban space more pleasant
“If we can predict drivers’ journeys, we will be able to predict the places where there will be traffic jams, car parks that will be full, enabling them to deviate their route to avoid jams or to find an available car parking space, he explains. The idea is to make urban space more pleasant for the user, but also for the community as a whole.”
Reduction of traffic jams and, ultimately, of pollution, is one of the issues of the research project managed by Cédric Seureau. “Cities must respect the engagement made within the COP21 framework to reduce greenhouse gases. Some, such as Copenhagen, even display the ambition to become carbon neutral by 2025. This will necessarily take place via a change in usage of urban and intercity transport. In particular by taking care to accompany each user in an integrated and personal itinerary: mobility becomes a service that that we must consider from end-to-end.”
“For me, he adds, one of the objectives really is to manage to look at the mobility of tomorrow from the angle of greenhouse gas reduction, and to contribute, through our research and solutions, to the environmental engagement of cities.”
The “Interconnecting Attractive Territories” project was tailor-made for Cédric Seureau, who joined Orange in 2010 as an architectural engineer. “What attracted me to Orange was the diversity of profiles and professions, as well as the ability to work within multidisciplinary teams. To sit round a table with engineers, network architects or sociologists, and imagine the services of tomorrow… This creates an effervescence of new ideas and makes the job fascinating.”
What appreciates in this job? The possibility to take hold of decisive technical topics whilst remaining close to the user. The project forms a part of the “Digital society” domain (one of the nine research fields invested by Orange), which gives pride of place to uses coming from digitalisation in a number of areas of society (education, health, transport, citizenship, etc.).
In the framework of his research, Cédric Sureau is of course looking at autonomous vehicles. “They will be at the heart of the mobility of tomorrow even though, despite the announcements of certain stakeholders, we have not yet reached full autonomy! It is still an exciting field of technological research, which enables us to both take up many technical challenges and explore new uses.”
The autonomous car topic is also significant in the co-innovation that it has initiated between Orange and its partners: cities, car manufacturers and parts suppliers, innovative telecommunications companies.
The Towards 5G project, presented during the 2017 edition of the Orange Salon de la Recherche, from 5 to 7 December 2017, illustrates this well. This experimentation platform, in partnership with Ericsson and PSA, aims to test automobile-specific pre-5G and 5G technologies so as to assess their capacity to meet the needs of this sector where security is crucial.
An example that testifies to more and more open research, on which Cédric Seureau looks very kindly. “I am proud of the evolution of research at Orange, of how it manages to show itself in its best light. The Group manages to enable researchers to go outside of their laboratory, to show what they are doing and the added value of their work, and to develop links with partners so as to enable them to work in an open and innovative ecosystem. This is essential to the research of tomorrow.“