First Autonomous Shuttle Bus

Hamburg’s First Autonomous Shuttle Bus

By Roy L Hales

There are only be five stops along the 1.8-kilometre-long route in Hamburg’s Hafencity. Initially, the only passenger will be an attendant who can take control if necessary. Hamburg’s first autonomous shuttle bus starts its trial run next month.

Deploying The Autonomous Shuttle Bus

By mid 2020, it should start carrying passengers. There is room for up to ten people. By the time the ITS World Congress opens in October 2021, the minibus should be operating autonomously (without an attendant) according to SAE Level 4 specifications.

HEAT Presentation (left-right) Henrik Falk (CEO HOCHBAHN), Natalie Rodriguez (Project Manager, HOCHBAHN), Senator Michael Westhagemann – Courtesy Hamburg Marketing

“Autonomous driving offers us a perspective for creating and providing especially attractive mobility offerings. Especially for times of the day or parts of the city where today’s conventional public transport solutions are reaching their limits and thus aren’t attractive enough to motivate people to switch from private cars,” says Henrik Falk, CEO of Hamburger Hochbahn AG (HOCHBAHN).

“At the ITS World Congress in 2021, we will use HEAT and many other projects to demonstrate that Hamburg is a pioneer in
innovative mobility solutions,” adds Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation.

The Autonomous Shuttle Bus is one of the numerous projects being developed for the 2021 ITS World Congress, Oct 11-15.

The Route

According to the press release, “In the first phase, the minibus will drive along the streets Am Dalmannkai, Großer Grasbrook, Am Sandtorkai and Am Sandtorpark. On this route, the vehicle will first be tested for autonomously crossing the intersection of Am Dalmannkai and Großer Grasbrook as well as how it communicates with sensors along the route and the control center. In the second phase, the minibus will also operate on Am Kaiserkai and thus drive directly past Hamburg’s Elbe Philharmonic Hall.”

“HEAT aims to show how vehicles equipped with autonomous driving functions can be properly and safely approved and operated. This is new legal territory. During the test operations, we will see how traffic laws need to be developed and adapted to this new situation. HEAT will provide impulses for the necessary laws,” says Matthias Hartwig, Project Manager at the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM).

Top photo credit: courtesy HOCHBAHN Hamburg