Bringing fully functional autonomous public transportation to the streets of Hamburg
IAV Automotive Engineering, along with five other contributing entities, are working toward the sustainability of modern mobility services through a public transportation project that will set a worldwide standard. The Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation (HEAT) project, taking place in Hamburg, Germany, involves the development of an autonomous bus for public transportation that will be added to a city’s infrastructure. Accompanying research will examine the needs of users and participants in the surrounding infrastructures and explore their acceptance of the system.
Our goals are to prove the suitability of autonomous driving minibuses for public transportation use and strengthen the perception and customer acceptance for autonomous driving. We also are looking to gain experience and expand expertise in the field of autonomous vehicles, as well as determine under which conditions, framework and areas autonomous driving could enhance Hamburg’s public transportation system (HOCHBAHN). The HEAT project is designed to supplement, not replace, the current bus lines and other modes of transportation available in Hamburg.
As the host city for ITS World Congress in 2021, the city is looking to use this project as a model for modern mobility solutions. To ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of the project, we are taking a gradual approach. In the first phase, beginning in spring 2019, test operations will occur without passengers, but with a professional vehicle attendant who can intervene immediately if necessary, on a predetermined route. This test route, which is subject to the necessary ongoing regulatory approvals, will be a total of 2.3 miles with nine stops, six of which are existing and three will be new. Passengers will be added to the second phase, though a vehicle attendant will still be on board. By summer 2021 and the ITS World Congress, a completely autonomous operation will be in place.
But before any of these test phases occur, there were some legal hurdles to overcome. At the onset of our project, autonomous driving was not covered by the current legal framework. In May 2017, the Road Traffic Act (StVG) was supplemented with regulations on automated driving, specifically, "motor vehicles with highly or fully automated driving function" (SAE Level 2-4). Therefore, vehicles such as the HEAT shuttle tested with the autonomous driving development objective (SAE Level 5) can only be provisionally authorized under the terms of these new regulations.
With so many moving parts and things to consider, collaboration is key for this type of project. No single entity has the combined skills or capabilities to bring this project to fruition. HOCHBAHN is responsible for the overall management of the project while the City of Hamburg is tasked with traffic planning, designing and implementing the necessary infrastructure and facilities as well as all legal requirements. Siemens AG is assisting with the conception and development of the roadside infrastructure and the required control center. Other partners include the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM), which will investigate new operator and business models as well as provide legal support for permits and approvals, and the German Aerospace Center e.V (DLR), which is contributing additional research. The IAV team is bringing our engineering expertise to design and develop the bus concept.
Equipped with electric motors, the buses will reach a speed of up to 31 mph, and will be approximately 6 feet long. They are expected to accommodate up to 16 passengers and have room for wheelchairs. Autonomous driving is made possible by three main components including cameras, radar, and LiDAR in or on the vehicle, as well as highly accurate maps. Off-vehicle infrastructure will include active and passive sensors, on-track digital communication systems and additional monitoring by the HOCHBAHN control center.
Operation of the shuttle is expected to be unobtrusive and seamless with other traffic. To ensure this is reality and to continuously identify ways to improve or optimize the overall traffic service in Hamburg, the German Aerospace Center will examine the demands of users for the HEAT system as well as the interaction of vehicles and pedestrians with the shuttles throughout all phases. This insight will not only assist in optimizing this project, it will provide useful data in developing safe, efficient and attractive designs of future innovative transportation services.
With this project, we are shaping the mobility of the future. By bringing our individual areas of expertise to the table, we are primed to develop a sustainable mobility network that will help us, and the industry overall, see what is truly possible in automated and autonomous driving.
HEAT Project Partners
Hamburger Hochbahn AG (HOCHBAHN)
The HOCHBAHN, founded in 1911, transports over 1.2 million passengers a day from its more than 250 subways and 1000 buses with its own fleet of vehicles. The HOCHBAHN serves as one of 34 partners in the Hamburg Transport Association (HVV) over 1400 stops and is the largest transport company in HVV deployment area. Around 5000 employees work at the HOCHBAHN around the clock for attractive public transport and convenient, future-oriented mobility in Hamburg.
The Mobility Division of Siemens AG is a leading international supplier of products, systems and solutions that enable the efficient, safe and environmentally friendly transportation of people and goods. Its business activities include rail vehicles, rail automation, traffic engineering and traffic telematics systems as well as rail electrification. Since 1898, Siemens AG has had its own branch in Hamburg.
Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM)
As an independent research institute, the IKEM Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility deals with current issues of climate protection as well as the shift in energy and mobility. One focus is the topic of autonomous driving: The IKEM is responsible for, among other things, the legal support of pilot tests and examines business and operator models for autonomous shuttles.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR)
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the research center of the Federal Republic of Germany for aerospace. It also carries out research and development work in the fields of energy, transport, security and digitization. In the HEAT project, DLR researchers are investigating the needs and assessments of users and other road users regarding autonomous buses.