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Experimentation – Lab Mobility

Moving forward

How are we going to find better ways to move ourselves and our stuff around the planet? By experimenting in the field.

People have been moving around the planet for thousands of years. Not only themselves — they’ve also been transporting most of the things that are part of their lives: all kinds of food, objects large and small, animals, sources of energy… Once on foot or on horse/donkey/camel/elephant-back, later on ships, trains, cars, planes… “Moving” is key to life as we know it. 

But how do we keep moving in ways that make sense for humans and the planet? Today, about 90% of what we own was shipped in a container from the other side of the globe before reaching us! Most of our transportation means pollute, and our lifestyles and traveling habits are not exactly helping.

Putting Mobility at the center of thecamp’s efforts to create a more sustainable future was an easy and obvious choice. Turning intentions into reality is now taking a lot of brain- and arm-power, working in the field with founding partners, local authorities, the EU, and cutting-edge entrepreneurs on quite a few different projects we’re super excited about! 

 

IT'S ALL ABOUT EXPERIMENTATION...

The Aix-Marseille area around thecamp is an ideal playground for working on the future of mobility. It’s a metropolis of nearly 2 million people that uses every type of transportation, but it also has daily traffic jams, significant air pollution, and plenty of room for improvement. Plus, it’s ideally located on the coast, connecting it with the rest of the Mediterranean region.

thecamp’s Lab is a special entity dedicated to working in the field and creating partnerships between multinationals, local authorities, specialized organizations, startups and citizens. These partnerships turn projects into blueprints for more widely applicable solutions, testing ideas in real-life conditions, implementing them with key stakeholders, spreading innovation all the way to citizens and end-users. 

Here’s a quick overview of the ways we’re working on mobility in the field!

 

…AT THE AIX-TGV HIGH-SPEED TRAIN STATION

“Aix-TGV”, as it’s known, is located several kilometers outside the city center of Aix-en-Provence — and just over a hill from thecamp. People transiting through this train station come from all over Europe. This means about 3.3 million travelers each year! It’s the perfect place to test out ways of making travel more sustainable and more comfortable with our main partner there, SNCF Gares & Connexions, the French National Railway Company.

— Demoiselle: getting to my final destination without a car

The station is far from from the city center, so travelers usually need to rent an individual car or take a cab or a bus to their final destination. This is typical of “last mile” issues in diffuse urban areas, where regular public transportation doesn’t reach. Demoiselle aims to develop a transportation solution between the station and the nearby business park, where thecamp is also located: a modular, autonomous, clean-energy shuttle reinventing user experience and encouraging more sustainable traveling habits.

While final results are expected by 2021, you should be able to spot a shuttle between the train station and thecamp before the summer!

Founding partners of thecamp involved: Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence, SNCF Gares & Connexions, RATP, MAIF 

— Solarcamp: earning free goodies thanks to my car’s clean energy

Imagine being able to buy magazines or a snack thanks to your car! Or more specifically, thanks to your car’s energy overload. Did you know that, if we all had electric cars today, our cities’ electricity grids wouldn’t be able to handle the energy demand? This project uses blockchain technology and an intelligent grid to allow electric car users to unload the electricity in their car in exchange for a special currency they can use at the train station. (And since the Aix-en-Provence area is sunny at least 230 days per year, why not make it clean solar energy? :) ) This means cars can play a role in bringing balance to new autonomous energy networks, and that’s really exciting! The smart grid is already set up at the train station and is being installed now at thecamp. Next step: use a blockchain platform to optimize the energy flow!

Founding partners of thecamp involved: VINCI Energies, Accenture, SNCF Gares & Connexions

— Aixploration: traveling in the future

If you travel through Aix-TGV, you may have been greeted by robot guides, experienced new ways of analyzing travelers' emotions, noticed digital displays, LED lighting, smart parking, mobile dustbins, even co-working spaces… the entire station is actually an "innovation showroom". It was chosen to be a pilot station used to test a series of innovative services over the next two years. Last but not least, the station is aiming at becoming completely self-sufficient in energy thanks to photovoltaics!

Founding partner of thecamp involved: SNCF Gares & Connexions

— Interlude: taking a break and reconnecting with yourself

Traveling is often stressful. You’re on a schedule, rushing to make sure you don’t miss your train, worried about having forgotten something. Interlude is a multi-sensorial and immersive experience allowing you to wind down and reconnect with yourself. It was developed within Hive, a 6-month residency program bringing together an eclectic, creative and international community at thecamp. It was installed at the Aix-TGV station for a month in 2018, and you might be able to catch it somewhere else sometime soon.

 

…AT MARSEILLE FOS PORT AND IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

Marseille Fos Port is the main trade sea port in France! Once famous for exporting Marseille soap, a lot has changed, but it’s still a big part of French economy. Almost 90 millions of tons of merchandise transit there every year. It generates about 45,000 jobs — a real city within the city. It’s also a major gateway to Africa and the whole Mediterranean. But the port is also a big source of pollution in the area... These high stakes make it the perfect place to reinvent transportation to be more sustainable, especially since oceans are invisible highways on which transit most of the stuff we buy.

— Smartport Challenge: creating the port of the future

The Smartport Challenge, led by the CCIMP (the Marseille-Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry), AMU (Aix-Marseille University), GPMM (Grand Port de Marseille Maritime) and the camp, is dedicated to creating the port of tomorrow through open innovation and collective action. It mobilizes 7 large companies teaming up with startups within the port ecosystem. Each of them proposed a different challenge, such as “How to use renewable energy for connecting ships to the electric grid?” or “How to establish port cybermapping?“

We’re particularly excited by the ecocalculator challenge aiming to allow companies to efficiently calculate the environmental footprint of a freight shipping route — this information can then be used to find ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Founding partners of thecamp involved: CCIMP, CMA CGM

— 4helix+: shaping a new Mediterranean maritime economy

Also led by our partner CCIMP, this project is a European initiative aiming to develop a blue economy in the Mediterranean thanks to creative innovation and cooperation — that’s like the green economy, but for ocean and coastal activities. Six other countries are also involved: Albania, Croatia, Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal. 

Startups and small businesses will get funding to work with innovation experts, and together, they’ll develop their solutions for a more sustainable maritime economy.

Innovation experts can apply now to join the project!

Founding partner of thecamp involved: CCIMP

 

…IN THE CITIES OF MARSEILLE AND AIX-EN-PROVENCE

Marseille and Aix-en-Provence are a great example of diverse issues in urban planning and quality of life. Of very different sizes (Marseille has almost 1 million inhabitants while Aix has less than 150,000), they offer different lifestyles (by the sea / inland) and represent a great variety of citizens and users — in terms of energy, means of transportation, daily itineraries, habits, etc. A very complementary and rich experimentation playground, especially since they’re part of a unique and self-administered metropolitan district (Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolitan area).

— DIAMS: the Digital Alliance for Aix-Marseille Sustainability

If you’ve walked around Marseille, you’ll probably have noticed air quality is a big issue — a lot of individual cars and motorcycles, the proximity with the port, a dry and hot climate, etc. There’s definitely room for improvement, and you can be part of it! DIAMS wants to make our air great again and is setting up a plan to massively reduce air pollution in cities. It’s a €5-million project financed by the EU, allowing data to circulate between urban, regional, and national platforms in order to build an efficient local infrastructure and facilitate integrated planning. Sound complicated? Don’t worry — the point is to actually engage citizens to help them co-develop solutions alongside the private sector. The project is currently in its early stages — but get ready to breathe more easily!

Founding partners of thecamp involved: La Poste, Métropole Aix-Marseille Provence  

— Aix Smart Places: connecting my town

Noise levels, traffic flow, pollution… all these things can be measured and improved to make your life better in the city. Inspired by "Réinventons Nos Places", at Place de la Nation in Paris, this project takes a new look at how to use data to make pertinent urban planning decisions, to improve your well-being using IoT infrastructure around the city. 

Founding partners of thecamp involved: Cisco, VINCI Energies

 

…AND BEYOND? 

Who knows — an airport might be next, so that we can re-imagine air travel and freight together, and maybe even make air travel an urban transport solution…

 

...WITH YOU, TOO?

If you think you have something to contribute to any of these projects, or if you have an awesome project that you believe would fit well with our Lab experiments, shoot us an email!