Autonomous buses should improve the connection to the existing local public transport in the future. In Magdeburg, Otto von Guericke University started preparations for a corresponding pilot project this week. To this end, the research team carried out initial driving tests with the French EZ10 minibus, which offers space for up to twelve passengers, on the outskirts of Magdeburg’s old town.
In the trials this week I will start first the planned test track measured, said Sönke Beckmann from the Institute for Logistics and Material Flow Technology. On Wednesday, the team of scientists also tried out technical details, such as the automatic ramp for wheelchairs, which should enable barrier-free operation. “The training of the employees will start next week and then the test operation will begin,” said Beckmann. In the test operation, which is to begin in August, those interested can then use the intelligent driverless minibus drive between Seumestrasse over the Sternbrücke into the city park and back. It is not yet clear when exactly the 2.3-kilometer route can be driven.
According to the French manufacturer EasyMile, the 1850 kg light EZ10 minibus can accommodate twelve passengers (EasyMile sometimes also speaks of 15 passengers) with a payload of up to a ton. There are six seats. Depending on local regulations, only the seats may be occupied. The vehicle drives up to 25 km / h in automated mode and is suitable for distances of up to 5 kilometers. The battery lasts between 6 and 10 hours.
However, there is not much space in the vehicle: with external dimensions of 4.02 m × 2 m × 2.87 m, it is quite tight when fully occupied. The vehicle has lidar sensors, GPS and cameras for automated driving, as well as safety features such as an emergency stop switch and audio-visual warning alarm.
In addition, there is a permanent 3G or 4G connection to the EasyMile cloud infrastructure and a high-speed Wi-Fi connection for large uploads and downloads for communication between the vehicle and the infrastructure. In fully automated mode, the vehicle drives a programmed route. An operator can also control the minibus manually.
The autonomous buses are seen as a promising technology of the future for the last mile, the distance between home and connections to local public transport, such as a train station. With the AS-UrbanÖPNV project (Automated Shuttlebusse – Urbaner ÖPNV), the scientists want to find out whether the minibuses that can drive on demand are an affordable alternative for rural areas.
Autonomous driving, the effects on passenger transport with robotic taxis, people movers, autonomous buses and the necessary techniques and regulations deal with us in a ten-part series.