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Human Oriented Sustainable Transport mean

The HOST project aims at developing a multipurpose transport mean. Due to the modularity of the chassis and powertrains, HOST is capable of being equipped with a variety of bodies, providing new services for mobility and goods displacement in towns, and organising urban motorised traffic in a more rational way.

Tags: Multimodal


Today’s European cities face many problems and transport is one of the most relevant, if not the most relevant. Mobility in cities gives problems of congestion, energy consumption, pollutant emissions, loss of green belts, occupancy of public spaces and, last but not least, health and safety. Although passenger transport is always perceived to be the main cause of mobility-related problems, recent studies proved that freight transport impact is also an issue: between 30 and 40% of energy consumed for transport in cities is due to freight transport. Any of the attempts made so far, for either research or demonstration purposes, to have a cleaner mobility based on low polluting vehicles have been successful in demonstrating that cleaner vehicles are technically feasible, but have failed to launch a real market for non-polluting vehicles. Low impact buses have been tested in many research projects and proved to be much less polluting than conventional ones, but have not been commonly adopted by city public transport companies because they are more expensive and problematic. To lower the impact of mobility on the cities, cleaner vehicles are not enough: an integrated passenger and freight strategy must be adopted. Cleaner vehicles must be specifically designed for the purpose and prove to be better than conventional ones under any aspect, including costs.


The HOST objectives are:

  • to subvert the vehicle design process and instead of designing the vehicle on the basis of the available technology, let it start from the real user needs
  • to design a multipurpose vehicle which can be used for several tasks over a period of 24 hours, thus reducing the investment costs for an environmentally friendly vehicle
  • to develop a modular powertrain with interchangeable power generation units so as to minimise the impacts of the vehicle circulation according to the task it is supplying
  • to integrate a drive-by-wire steering system
  • to design a modular chassis capable of changing length according to the capacity (in terms of volume of freight or number of passengers) it has to have for the task it is supplying
  • to design different vehicle cabins which can be easily and automatically switched for passenger and freight transport
  • to integrate in the vehicle chassis an advanced horizontal transhipment device capable of transferring pallets of freight as well as facilitating the cabin interchange
  • to manufacture the HOST prototype and to test it, so to prove the concept.

Fulfilling all these objectives will lead to the design and construction of a vehicle which could supply freight and passenger services economically in cities and allow, if adopted in combination with some accompanying measures, city mobility to become more sustainable.

Description of work

HOST proposes to use one modular vehicle platform with four different cabins to accomplish four different transport tasks. To verify that such a concept was feasible and to dimension the low environmental impact of such a vehicle, a severe acquisition campaign was set up in three different European cities: Oeiras (PT), Rome (IT) and Stockholm (SE). The first act of the user needs analysis (UNA) provided the working methodology to be followed in data collection and analyses, aiming to introduce a new method to design vehicles: instead of starting from the technology and looking for a proper application of it, HOST investigated a number of services and defined the needs of each of them. The UNA deals with the needs identification, subdivided by user, market and driving needs: it concerns the definition of the vehicle technical specifications, capable of satisfying simultaneously all the needs and the identification of the potential market for such a vehicle. The three cities were asked to choose at least two (one freight and one passenger, and one night-time and one daytime) from among the four services identified since the proposal:

  • night-time collective taxi
  • daytime car sharing services
  • daytime freight collection and distribution
  • night-time garbage collection.

The technical specifications that have arisen constitute the basis for the design and the following construction phase.


The progress made so far is mainly related to the definition of the vehicle’s technical specifications, representing the guiding input for the whole design phase (enclosing both chassis and powertrain), which is now completed. The main achievements of the initial study were the definition of the HOST prototype as a whole, in terms of dimension and bulk of the platform (chassis and suspension) as well as the various boxes constituting the powertrain and the human machine interface (fig.2). The results obtained confirm that a common powertrain can accomplish the four tasks selected by adding modules for extra energy storage or an auxiliary power unit. A particular reference has been reserved for the transhipment system where the HOST concept has to carry a device that enables the prototype to tranship the cabin and/or body vehicle as an intermodal transport unit in a practical way and therefore let the vehicle enter into logistic process flows (fig. 1). Fulfilling all these objectives will lead to the design and construction of a vehicle which could economically supply freight and passenger services in cities and allow, if adopted in combination with some accompanying measures, city mobility to become more sustainable.