The bus is still being tested without passengers and a safety driver is also on board to monitor the traffic and the behavior of the “AutBus” during operation. However, the electrified, autonomous minibus is to be further developed after the successful test phase and gradually transferred to regular operation. It will then take its passengers safely and comfortably to their destination on the route between Neubäu railway station and the lakeside promenade. It will cover a total of five stops over 1.3 kilometres and is intended to be a sustainable supplement to the public transport system and individual transport in rural areas.
Self-driving VW bus on the road at 60 km/h
With a speed of up to 60 km/h, the AVL “AutBus” blends seamlessly into road traffic. In doing so, the electrified VW T6 behaves like a manned vehicle, but thanks to precise sensor technology and autonomous driving functions, it can independently avoid obstacles and start, turn, or stop in all directions. The steering wheel and pedals are controlled electronically, with the help of a drive-by-wire system from Schaeffler ByWire. Safe operation is ensured by lidar and radar-based sensors on the vehicle roof as well as further radar installations in the car body, which allow a 360° all-round view. In this way, the “AutBus” can optimally capture its surroundings. The experts at the Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Amberg-Weiden supplied the necessary infrastructure sensor technology as development partners. Data from the roadside units, i.e. from additional sensors that are installed along a road or a pedestrian path and make critical traffic points visible, are also used to perceive the current traffic situation and for orientation.
Autonomous driving: The first step has been taken
The expansion of the route network or the operation of a small fleet of approximately three to ten vehicles is also being considered after the successful trial operation. In addition, there will be an on-demand call-bus function via app. The expansion of the “AutBus” concept to logistics applications is also conceivable.
Numerous guests of honour at the opening of the route
The opening of the “AutBus” test track attracted numerous visitors. Among the guests of honour, the Managing Director of AVL Software & Functions GmbH, Georg Schwab, and the Site Manager of the AVL Mobility and Sensor Centre in Roding, Armin Engstle, welcomed the Deputy Minister President and State Minister for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger (Freie Wähler), the District Administrator of the Cham District, Franz Löffler (CSU), and the Mayor of Roding, Alexandra Riedl (Freie Wähler).
For Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Hubert Aiwanger, today is a symbolic day:
“Our support in the transformation towards high-tech is paying off. In AVL Software and Functions GmbH, we have found a competent technology partner and employer that solves important future mobility issues. This showcase project of an autonomous bus will certainly provide great, positive impulses for the future. Particularly for rural areas, I see great potential for completing local public transport right down to the village level. From cars to buses to truck transport, I see great innovation lying dormant with the technology of autonomous driving, which we must leverage.”
District Administrator Franz Löffler adds: “The “AutBus” is a flagship for the innovative strength of our economic region, but also a trend-setting signal for public transport in rural areas. The project makes it clear that in our district we are not only thinking about future technologies, but also putting them into practice. The basis for fully automated driving is a gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure that guarantees reliable and fast data transmission in the area. The district is implementing this high-performance infrastructure with one of the largest fibre-optic expansion measures in the whole of Germany, thus creating the necessary framework conditions for sustainable and smart mobility concepts.”
The mayor of Roding, Alexandra Riedl, emphasises the importance of the “AutBus” for the region around Roding. “AVL is setting another milestone: an autonomously driving bus in our rural region. This shows that we are also moving with the times here in the district of Cham and in the town of Roding and that the infrastructure is also suitable for this. For the town of Roding, this means another step towards a digital future, which we do not want to close ourselves off to here. Congratulations to AVL on this forward-oriented innovation.”
The Managing Director of AVL Software and Functions GmbH, Dr Georg Schwab, concludes by emphasising the importance of innovations for rural areas:
Thanks to the “AutBus”, we can safely operate an autonomous shuttle in local public transport in a rural environment. The “AutBus” demonstrates what future mobility could look like. As a leading provider of innovative technological solutions, we at AVL are committed to successively developing this concept for the benefit of the population. Incidentally, AVL is one of the first development service providers to have received approval for testing from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). We are convinced that the “Autbus” can play a decisive role in keeping rural regions an attractive place to live for all age groups.