“Sir, we can go on Monday and meet the Head of the Innovation Team?” Never are teachers more excited than when they hear words like this from a student in their class. Loick is studying for the IB Diploma at Le Régent, and in his ITGS class, students are studying Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. His research led him to an innovation project by SwissPost for autonomous buses in Uvrier in Valais. Their teacher, Mr Snell was as enthusiastic as Loick: “We just had to visit.”
The electric “SmartShuttle” has been running on-demand in Uvrier since the start of April. Residents and visitors can book an autonomous bus via an app or by phone to visit the supermarket, take a trip to the railway station or even a ride home from school. Of course, students had to take a trip in the autonomous bus, interestingly equipped with a safety driver and an Xbox controller (yes, an Xbox controller). Watching in wonder as the autonomous vehicle navigated the roads of Uvrier through the bustle of daily traffic, is something that the class will remember forever.
Will driverless vehicles eventually become ubiquitous in our society? The innovation team from SwissPost had some remarkable ideas: school buses tracked by parents, a safety driver who can drive five buses at once, autonomous buses working together to map the most efficient route, and post delivered by autonomous drones. The technology is ready, but … the Uvrier authorities require about 100 pages of documentation for navigating even a small roundabout.
One roundabout, one hundred pages. Innovation isn’t always easy but it is clear it can bring many advantages. Through digital transformation and automation, society is facing the challenge of creating new solutions and developing new business models. This is IT in a Global Society (or ITGS!) on our doorstep.
Teachers often look for ways to link the curriculum with real-world examples. And thanks to Loick’s initiative, all the students in his class could understand more about the digital transformation our society is navigating – one small roundabout at a time.