Autonomous buses will be tested in real-life traffic conditions in five European cities between April and October 2020.
Three international consortia will operate the self-driving shuttles as part of the existing public transport systems in Helsinki (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia) and Gjesdal (Norway) in the spring, followed by trials in Lamia (Greece) and Helmond (the Netherlands) and a second trial in Gjesdal in the autumn.
It’s part of the EU-funded FABULOS project (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation Systems), which aims to speed up the introduction of new types of automated transport solutions in the European market.
The vehicles are expected to be driverless, with a safety person on board only if required by local regulations.
During the field trials, the functionality, interoperability and security of the autonomous fleets will be assessed.
According to the FABULOS project website, all of the pilots will take place in urban settings but each pilot location has its own special challenges. For example, in Gjesdal there is a 12% incline due to the mountainous terrain, whereas in Lamia high temperatures must be successfully managed. In the Netherlands the large number of cyclists must be taken into consideration and in Helsinki the route passes the second busiest train station in the country. In Tallinn, the connection to the airport will be improved, leading to challenges with factors such as existing bus traffic.
Participating companies will have to prove that their solution works under different geographical, climatological and urban conditions and can be scaled across Europe. They must also prove that they can manage real-life operations on this scale.