Centre d’innovació i Tecnologia BARCELONATECH



The UPC was present at the new edition of the Smart City Expo World Congress 2017 (SCEWC); the leading event on smart cities, which took place on 14–16 November at the Fira de Barcelona.

Through the CIT UPC Technology Center, la Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) presented ‘smart’ technological solutions at the Smart City Expo World Congress  (stand F607 in the Gran Vía site) in the areas of urban mobility, electric vehicles, urban planning, data science, smart grids, emergency management, robotics, waste management, renewable energies, communication and eHealth.

The UPC stand was shared with the European project Echord++ (The European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development), whose participants include the Instituto de Robótica e Informática Industrial (IRI), a Joint Research Center of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). Echord++ promotes interaction between robot manufacturers, researchers and users. Conference visitors could meet ARSI and SIAR, two robot prototypes created to assist in the inspection and maintenance of cities’ sewers. Both robots, as well as ROBODILLOS, travelled around the sewer system of Barcelona in July in pilot tests to assess their mobility, autonomy and communication capabilities. This technology will be operative and available for sewer inspections and maintenance from October 2018, and was presented at the trade fair so that the product can reach the market.

Also on the stand were the humanoid robot TIBI and the robot Helena, a platform that gets on and off an autonomous vehicle to facilitate last mile distribution, both of which were also developed by the IRI.

In the area of virtual and augmented reality technologies, the UPC presented a system developed by the Visualization, Virtual Reality and Graphic Interaction Research Group (ViRVIG) to simulate the behaviour of a group in an emergency situation that requires evacuation of an environment. This simulation, focused on the inside of a gym, can be used to visualize the various scenarios, behaviour and movement of people, and the time they take to leave the site.
On 15 November, in the Ágora space within the exhibition ground, ECHORD++ held an open consultation to receive comments from representatives of cities participating in SCEWC on four challenges of cities that could become future innovative robotics projects to develop with public bodies: the expansion of the green space in cities, improvement in the distribution of commercial goods in pedestrian areas, the inspection and maintenance of the sewer system, and the mobility of the elderly. On this last challenge, the researcher and head of IRI, Alberto Sanfeliu, participated in a session on ‘Age- and Child-Friendly Cities and Communities’.

In this same space, Antonio Álvarez, director of CIT UPC, presented the technological capabilities of the UPC in the smart city field, and some of the projects developed in this area.

On the SEAT stand in the Mobility Hub (Hall 2 of the Gran Vía site), CARNET – the research hub in Barcelona focused on urban mobility and comprised of SEAT Volkswagen Group Research and the UPC – presented the Virtual Mobility Lab. This is a simulation tool developed by inLab FIB UPC with the collaboration of the PTV Group and Kineo that analyses and assesses the impact of smart mobility projects in Barcelona. The results can then be extrapolated before a pilot study is implemented. In one of the first tests, the Virtual Mobility Lab showed that, with the use of 500 on-demand shuttles, the number of private vehicles on the streets of Barcelona could be reduced to 2,000, with the resulting improvement in traffic in the city and in pollution levels. This tool could also be seen on the UPC stand.


CARNET also organized the  Automonous Driving Challenge, a competition designed for engineering students to find young talent. In the Challenge, participants had to develop software that could move a vehicle autonomously around a defined circuit. The Project began in April. In six months, the fifty students from the nine participating universities had to develop software for vehicles to scale.

CARNET created a closed driving circuit inspired by the city of Barcelona for the final of this Challenge. First prize was won by a team from the University of Valladolid. The vehicles competed to overcome all the challenges, and demonstrated that it was really possible to drive autonomously in an urban environment. The development is applicable and can be scaled up to algorithms for autonomous driving in real life, and gives students the capacity to participate in creating this concept of mobility in the future.