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driverless buses

Autonomous Shuttles: mixed traffic on existing roads for financially viable transit for modest volumes

Driverless Buses

Driverless buses are the future, as Morgan Stanley states the car of the future is shared, autonomous and electric. Which means that the introduction of driverless vehicles actually starts – and should start – with the introduction of autonomous shuttles. Such public transit vehicles are the key to ensure the liveability of cities by ensuring the appeal of the driverless car doesn’t result in an increase of the number of cars and car movements on city streets. Driverless buses are available as a 4-passenger taxi and 20-passenger mini-bus.

Mixed traffic

Safely integrating driverless buses in mixed traffic is (only) possible today when operating in a semi-controlled environment. In suchenvironment the complexity of mixed operations is reduced through a degree of control over the four application aspects (1) speed, (2) intersections, (3) access and (4) behavior. In case of insufficient control of the complexity the only way to ensure the safety today, is by means of safety driver or steward and low(er) speeds restricting the throughput and capcity that can be realized.

2getthere’s applications

The first applications of driverless buses are expected in a limited size, dedicated area. 2getthere’s Rivium system operates in a semi-controlled environment: although operating on a dedicated track, there is no control over access to the track and the behavior of other road users. The vehicles were actually used in various mixed traffic demonstrations in 2003 and 2004. The Rivium ParkShuttle serves as a benchmark for 2getthere in the study of the requirements for safe integration of automated vehicles in various environments.

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Autonomous Shuttles serving Brussels Airport last mile needs

Brussels Aiport

In 2015, Brussels Airport Company and De Lijn entered into a partnership with the intent to deploy self-driving shuttles at the airport. Further study and a tender between five different suppliers of autonomous vehicles ultimtely led to the choice for 2getthere. The project fits well with Brussels Airport drive to constantly study new possibilities of expanding their intermodal hub in sustainable manner. With the project Flanders is a pioneer: it will be the first permanent application (at an airport) without steward and on public roads.

Phased Introduction

The contract is divided into two phases. The first phase covers the development and thorough testing of the technology. In autumn 2019, 2getthere will be conducting the first vehicle tests at its testsite in Utrecht. Upon successful completion, the first self-driving bus will arrive at Brussels Airport in the beginning of 2020 for further test drives at the airport. Upon a positive evaluation of the first phase of testing, De Lijn and Brussels Airport Company can deploy the self-driving shuttle from 2021 onwards between the terminal and Brucargo.

De Lijn

The initiative for the project originated at De Lijn, the public transit company of Flanders. For the application Brussels Airport Company and De Lijn are sharing the project costs, with the go-ahead for the first phase given on April 20th, 2018. De Lijn is responsible for the costs associated with people who travel by public transport (De Lijn, MIVB, NMBS) to the airport. The airport operator will foot the costs for the transport of persons who come to the airport by other means of transport (staff, visitors or passengers).

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