Citroën Skates Toward Automous Mobility

Citroën, in collaboration with the hospitality company Accor, Pullman Power Fitness and the advertising company JCDecaux, presented its vision for the future of urban mobility on September 30. Called Urban Collëctif, the concept is basically a fully autonomous electric platform mounted on spheres, compatible with interchangeable capsules for different types of experiences.

This follows through on Citroën’s push toward urban mobility that they first touted with the introduction on the Ami One. The 2-seat Ami Electric has now made it to the streets of France and now Citroën shows us a means to move people in a personal environment with Skate Deck, an electric car skateboard designed to be fitted with a variety of bodies to meet the needs of a whole spectrum of passengers.

Images credit: Citroën

The Skate Deck is designed for level 5 autonomous capacity, which means that it is completely autonomous and can operate almost continuously. Depending on your environment, it can reach a top speed of 3 mph (5 km / h) or 16 mph (25 km / h). This may seem slow, but Citroën claims that its overall concept would improve traffic flow by at least 35 percent when operating in a dedicated lane of traffic.

The Skate Deck measures 2.60 m (102.4 inches) long, 1.60 m wide (63 inches) and 0.51 m (20 inches) high. The Eagle 360 omni wheels, or should we say spheres, were developed by Goodyear. These incorporate electric motors and allow for 360-degree maneuverability, while the hydraulic cushions in the suspension ensure that passengers enjoy maximum comfort within the realm of the omni wheels travel. It can be operated with no human input “almost continuously” for 24 hours by charging itself at dedicated hubs.

Citroën says the pods can be swapped in just 10 seconds. By separating the pods from the platform, Citroën claims it can “maximize the use of autonomous technology while expanding service offerings.”

Let’s look at the concept pods:

The Sofitel En Voyage hotel pod has a wood marquetry exterior with large glass surfaces and automatic sliding glass doors. The blood orange velvet interior can accommodate two or three passengers with a separate trunk, ambient lighting, an LED strip that broadcasts the news, a bar that opens “like a flower”, a premium sound system, a touchscreen tablet and wireless charging.

The second pod, for Pullman Power Fitness, is designed in accordance with the Pullman Hotels & Resorts fitness program that allows passengers to exercise while traveling through the city. It has a cylindrical shape with futuristic dichroic patterns that guarantee privacy. The interior has a rower and a bicycle, with LED lighting that creates a “stimulating and regenerating experience” for the user, as well as a digital trainer that appears on a holographic screen. And being green of course — the exercise effort of the user helps to charge the Skate Deck’s batteries.

The third pod, the JDCecaux City Provider, is inspired by the street furniture of the advertising company. This has an open area with a canopy and an enclosed area with two screens, ambient lighting, and USB sockets for charging passenger devices. It features light wood trim, textured black, and satin aluminum grey exterior, plus ceiling-mounted plants. Additionally, the pod is accessible for people in wheelchairs or parents with strollers.

With full Level 5 autonomy Citroën claims that anything is possible with the open source approach of its Skate technology, allowing any third party to develop a compatible capsule. Their feeling is that local authorities, public officials and companies could benefit from this concept, “developing their own Pods for the transport of passengers, service offers or consumer goods, in public or private spaces such as airports, factories or convention centers ”. And eventually even our streets!

Citroën claims the Skate Deck concept can improve traffic fluidity by 35%. Whether that is enough to make this concept a workable platform for the real world is something that remains to be seen.

Citroën CEO Vincent Cobée highlighted the importance of electric cars for urban mobility in the post-Covid era. “We believe that this new concept can redefine the framework of urban mobility: shared, electric and autonomous. With the solution we are presenting in partnership with Accor and JCDecaux, we are inventing autonomous mobility for all.”

Obviously, the project is still far from being a possible market launch, but it gives us an idea of the urban environment of the future and that innovation is still very much alive at Citroën.

Here’s the video they did of the Skate Deck concept:

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