You’ll find more press releases by clicking on the link to the Shuttles&Co logbook (in german).
A new generation of highly automated electric shuttles is being trialled on a new route. Passengers can ride it for free.
Following a delay caused by the pandemic, the undeniably cute, highly automated electric shuttles enter service in Alt-Tegel at 9:30am on 29 June 2021. Passengers can ride a total of three shuttles on two routes in Alt-Tegel completely free of charge.
A new qualitative aspect of the ‘Shuttles&Co’ project is the use of a new generation of vehicles, whose improved technology is being trialled in real-world use. Over the course of testing in recent months, the new vehicles from EasyMile have familiarised themselves with the challenging routes, including a roundabout, junctions, cobblestone surfaces, and narrow roads.
The new circular route (328B) runs along Medebacher Weg, Brunowstraße, Eisenhammerweg, Schlieperstraße, and Treskowstraße. The electric shuttles will also again serve the ‘See-Meile’ route (now route 328A), trialled back in 2019, from Alt-Tegel underground station towards Greenwichpromenade.
Passenger services with the highly automated shuttles are made possible by a research project led by the Berlin Senate Department for the Environment, Urban Mobility, Consumer Protection, and Climate Action, which is being run together with the BVG, the Berlin Agency for Electromobility (eMO), and further partners. The project has received funding of 9.8 million euros for the period from 2020 to mid-2022 from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV). It is supported by Reinickendorf council and the Berlin-Tegel fire service, which is providing parking spaces for the shuttles on its premises.
Operations will again be run by the BVG, which in 2019 successfully completed a five-month test of a self-driving shuttle from EasyMile together with eMO, the Senate Department for Economics, Energy, and Public Enterprises, the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport, and Climate Protection, EasyMile, and ioki – the project known as the ‘See-Meile’. As then, BVG attendants will again be on board to stop the bus in the event of an emergency and help it bypass any obstacles.
Ingmar Streese, State Secretary for Transport: ‘The recently published citizens’ report on the shuttle project clearly shows that autonomous vehicles are attracting a great deal of interest. Respondents see these vehicles as a valuable addition to the “mobility transition,” and were in favour of them being used in the public transport network if they create true added value in terms of safety, the environment, and urban compatibility. Right now, we’re going to see how this can be done.’
Eva Kreienkamp, Chairwoman of the Management Board at the BVG: ‘Following Berliners’ excellent response to the “See-Meile” project, we’re delighted to be able to take the next step. With three highly automated electric shuttles on two routes, we’re challenging the technology to grow along with us. This is important, because in the hopefully not too distant future, we want to offer customers the use of autonomous shuttles that can cover their first or last miles as an on-demand service. The pilot test as part of “Shuttles&Co” is a further step on our journey to that destination.’
Frank Balzer, Mayor of Reinickendorf: ‘I very much welcome the fact that the BVG again chose Reinickendorf to run real-world tests of the next stage in autonomous public transport. Following the SAFARI project, which tested conditions for autonomous driving at traffic lights and road signs, and the highly automated bus on the “See-Meile” route at Tegel harbour, this fascinating project is now being expanded. Reinickendorf looks forward to greeting the future.’
About the vehicles
The new EasyMile vehicles (EZ10 Gen3) can seat six persons. Due to the pandemic, however, the number of passengers is limited to three until further notice to ensure sufficient distancing on board. Wheelchair users and persons with restricted mobility can access the shuttle via an integrated, electrically extending ramp. The vehicles have one space for wheelchair users or a buggy. They also feature underfloor heating and air-conditioning.
The vehicles run on a previously measured and learned route. During the journey, the shuttle constantly scans its surroundings with sensors. If an obstacle is detected, the bus stops and the attendant takes over to bypass it.
About the Shuttles&Co research project
The project, led by the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport, and Climate Protection, is devoted to researching basic technologies for the future digitisation of transport. It is investigating how automated and networked vehicles can better recognise their surroundings, how the sharing of necessary information can be improved, and how digital maps can be created and constantly updated on this basis. Highly detailed digital maps provided by the State of Berlin are used for this purpose. User take-up of the new technology is also an important factor. The general public is involved through dialogue forums, the first of which took place for local residents at the ‘Seeterrrassen’ on the banks of Lake Tegel on 17 September 2021. Another forum, this time for local businesses, was held on 18 September 2021, also at the ‘Seeterrassen’.
The results of the project will help the project partners to identify key insights for the future of public transport. As an example, they are looking into how highly automated electric shuttles can be usefully and economically integrated into regular public transport services.
The project partners:
- Senate Department for the Environment, Urban Mobility, Consumer Protection, and Climate Action (SenUMVK)
- Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG)
- Berlin Agency for Electromobility (eMO)
- Reinickendorf Council
- Berlin Fire Service
- German Aerospace Center (DLV), Institute of Transportant Systems
- Fraunhofer FOKUS
- Free University of Berlin – Dahlem Center for Machine Learning and Robotics
- IAV GmbH Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr (part of project consortium until late 2021)
- Technical University of Berlin with
- Daimler Center for Automotive IT Innovations (DCAITI)
- Center for Technology and Society (ZTG), ‘Mobility and Space’ Department
- VMZ Berliner Betreibergesellschaft mbH