GERMANY: Deutsche Bahn’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary Ioki and its local bus operator Regionalbus Ostbayern have launched a driverless shuttle service using public roads to provide ‘last mile’ transport between the centre of Bad Birnbach and the town’s station.
The service on the 2 040 m long route operates between 08.00 and 18.00. The two EasyMile EZ10 Gen2 electric shuttles can carry six passengers and feature a wheelchair ramp, wi-fi and USB charging ports. Travel is free of charge.
The presence of the 15 km/h vehicles is detected by roadside cameras, and digital signs are used to reduce the variable speed limit for all traffic to 30 km/h, ensuring safety while minimising the impact on other road users.
A steward on each vehicle can intervene in operation if necessary, and in the event of snow or thick fog the service will be operated using a conventional minibus.
The link to the station follows trials on a 660 m route launched in 2017. This has since operated for more than 21 000 km and carried more than 40 000 passengers.
New opportunities for public transport
Federal Minister for Transport & Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer and DB Passenger Transport Director Berthold Huber joined Mayor Josef Hasenberger on the first trip on the extended route.
‘The climate-friendly mobility revolution must also become a concern beyond major cities’, said Huber on October 7. ‘Rural areas in particular need new concepts to attract more people to environmentally-friendly public transport. Therefore, we want to link road and rail even more closely together. After all, individual mobility without a car should also be possible in rural areas.’
Scheuer said ‘transport is becoming more interconnected, and the first self-driving vehicles are already on our roads. This leads us to completely new opportunities for public transport and the connection of rural areas: people remain mobile into old age, while transport is becoming safer, more cost-efficient and climate-friendly. I am very pleased that DB has started a pilot project to test the technology in everyday life – and to get people excited about autonomous driving.’