Science

Deployment of autonomous minibuses in Germany – Sciences et Avenir

TRANSPORT. After Munich, where the IAA International Motor Show took place in September 2021, it is Hamburg’s turn to host this week the ITS World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, which meets in Europe every three years to consider the mobility of the future. . Since Monday, October 11, 2021, the Hanseatic city has become a huge demonstration site, with the world’s first test of an autonomous train, an S-Bahn (urban skytrain) in this case. In fact, the trend is towards the promotion of public transport (shuttles and buses in the first place), with the aim of replacing the private car and by this means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also of filling the deficit in transportation and save money. . Many projects are currently under study or in the test phase in Germany, because our neighbor intends to play a pioneering role in this area.

The tests of autonomous shuttles on the track are forceful

The fully autonomous vehicles that are already in circulation in Germany mainly concern the logistical transport of goods or the transport of personnel to the company’s premises (then we speak of People Movers), and they have special authorizations for this. Regarding road passenger transport in public space, pilot projects are only being carried out in several German municipalities, according to different protocols and with different associations. In the Rhine-Main region, for example, the tests, already very mature, are conclusive in rural areas, on the banks of the Main in Frankfurt, in hospitals or to transport visitors to tourist places. Ferries, which follow a predefined route and run in a lane reserved for them, are not dangerous and their intervention is especially considered where buses are no longer profitable, in the countryside or to service industrial areas. In the city, as in Magdeburg, the main objective is to improve the connections with the existing public transport and to help passengers to travel “the last mile” to or from their homes.

In traffic, autonomous minibuses still hesitate too much

More boldly, other projects aim to integrate autonomous public transport into urban traffic. In the spring of 2021, the first test carried out on German territory without a predefined route was carried out in Karlsruhe, with three minibuses making trips on demand. This first experience made it possible to highlight the necessary improvements: the vehicle, traveling at a maximum speed of 20 km / h, does not move fast enough in traffic, in particular, it does not pass intersections fast enough. It would also be necessary to reduce the safety distance around the shuttle, which all too often stops as a safety measure when a car passes too close or a pile of leaves gets in its way.

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