FABULOS project puts robot buses to the streets of Europe
After one and a half years of developing autonomous shuttle solutions, the FABULOS project says it is now bringing robot buses to the streets of Europe. Starting this spring, three robot bus prototypes will be evaluated in real-life conditions in five European cities. All the shuttle solutions offer an all-inclusive service for autonomous last-mile transport while testing their features and adapting to the geographical challenges.
During the field-testing phase of the pre-commercial procurement, selected robot bus prototypes will be tested as small fleets of shuttles in Estonia, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway. Each of the three suppliers chosen for this phase will receive up to 1 million euros to prepare pilots and implement operational systems to validate their prototypes. The three supplier consortia, composed of several companies representing five nationalities, are Sensible4-Shotl (Finnish–Spanish), Saga (Norwegian–Canadian), and Mobile Civitatem (Estonian).
Goals for piloting
The focus is on a turnkey solution that can manage automated robot bus fleets as part of cities’ public transportation systems. For cities, this means more attractive, cost-efficient, and sustainable transport solutions. Citizens, in turn, get more tailored urban mobility alternatives, enabling seamless transfer across the public transportation network.
The piloting of the self-driving shuttles has already started in Helsinki, Finland. Pilots in Gjesdal (Norway) and Tallinn (Estonia) will follow in June 2020, but there may be some delays due to the COVID-19 restrictions. During the autumn of 2020, pilots will be launched in Lamia (Greece), Helmond (the Netherlands), and again in Gjesdal. Each of the suppliers will pilot their robot bus solutions in two cities.
As part of each 50-day field trial period, the functionality, interoperability, and security of the autonomous fleets will be assessed. After each of the pilots, representatives of the six procuring partners will carry out an evaluation process. A pre-commercial procurement does not have one “winner.” All robot bus prototypes are expected to be commercialized and can be part of a follow-up procurement.
Robot buses hit the streets of five European cities
The fleet of three autonomous vehicles in Helsinki drives along a circular route starting from the busy Pasila Railway Station, riding partly on a separate lane, with speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph). The majority of the route is in mixed traffic and includes several crossroads with traffic lights, right turns, street-side parking, and a roundabout. There are three bus stops on the route and on-demand rides are available via a mobile app.
Technologically, the shuttle buses do not need a driver or steward on board since they can operate fully autonomously. The fleets are monitored from a newly established remote control center, a reported first in Europe. In special circumstances that may require it, a remote operator can give permission to pass an object (such as a car blocking the road) or take over the control of the vehicles.
The overall aim of the pre-commercial procurement is to accelerate the introduction of new types of automated last-mile solutions entering the European market. Therefore, when the pilots are finalized, the procuring cities and any third-party procurers will consider initiating a public follow-up procurement in 2021 based on the insights gained from this project.
For more information, visit fabulos.eu.