With Etienne Gaudin, Director of Operations for the Infrastructure Development and Sustainable & Intelligent Mobility Division at Colas.
What is Flowell?
Flowell is developing an active luminous road marking. The technology can create any shape, it is a distinctive and differentiating factor, Flowell is the only company in the world with this technology. Several experiments have been carried out in France.
The marking can appear and disappear, it is a form of separation on the areas of the road where we are used to having something static.
On the technical side, the marking is a few millimetres thick. Colas developed the technology with photovoltaic cells (with Wattway), and today it is the 2nd generation of this technology that uses LEDs.
What are the benefits of this technology?
This can be used in 2 scenarios: in security and in space sharing.
- In safety, as on a pedestrian crossing tested in Mandelieu, it improves visibility when pedestrians cross. This causes a change in the behaviour of both the pedestrian and the motorist. The pedestrian has a heightened sense of safety, the driver is more aware of the pedestrian’s priority. At the Mandelieu site, a 30% increase in respect for pedestrian priority was noted, as well as an increase in “calm stops”, with a 50% reduction in sudden stops.
- The other major benefit is the sharing of space, Flowell allows for modularity. There have been experiments, notably in New York and Saclay, on parking areas, to vary different uses at different times (delivery spaces transformed into regular parking).
How long will the trial last?
Flowell tries to have several iterations to test different behaviours, it takes from several months to 2 years.
For “pedestrian crossing” type experiments, the framework is more constrained and the regulations are more stringent. When you want to change the road markings, you have to obtain a waiver from the authorities, these trials last for 2 years.
What are the opportunities presented by this technology and the communication capacity of the infrastructure?
Communication technologies are available, but not widely used on infrastructure. Infrastructure can be adaptive, analysing the movements of different people (detecting a vehicle and its trajectory, the pedestrian and their trajectory). Flowell is a medium that allows communication between different users, with additional sensors the possibilities are endless.
The traffic light was invented in 1860, developed in 1920 and there’s been no major innovations since. The technology of the 21st century is being deployed on the road, which allows us to aim for calmer mobility, especially in cities.
Is it possible to communicate between the infrastructure and the car?
Technologically it is advanced, it permits communication between the infrastructure and the robot. The question is about “non-robots” and how to communicate with them. Finally, what are the media that allow for a continuity of information between increasingly automated vehicles and users? This question remains open today.Can infrastructure contribute to more sustainable driving?
If we take the example of green waves, tested in a few places: give information to a bicycle, when approaching a junction, to give it information on its speed when approaching the junction. This was thought of 30 years ago for the car, we can also imagine what could be the right kind of information to give to drivers to incite them to change their behaviour.