In the long journey that leads to autonomous driving, Scania tries to make a leap forward of some length, taking a driver-less bus for the first time on public roads.
This is not an absolute novelty – there are already self-driving shuttles, for example the Navly in service in Lyon – but it is one of the first projects with large buses. That then the vehicle is also 100% electric also takes second place given how ambitious this project is, which also involves Nobina, the largest public transport company in Scandinavia.
The experimentation will have two distinct phases:
- Initially there will be no passengers on the autonomous buses and in the driver’s seat there will still be a driver who can take control should something go wrong.
- When the passengers also go up in the second phase, they will take care of them.
“We believe that this is the future of passenger transport”, explained Henrik Dagnäs, managing director of Nobina, “this project will allow us to accumulate experience and to improve all the daily aspects of the management of autonomous buses. The ultimate goal is to make public transport available to more and more people”.
The “actors” of this experimentation will be two Scania Citywide LF – twelve meters long and capable of accommodating up to 80 passengers – that will connect the new residential area of Barkarby which is located about 20 kilometers south of Stockholm, with the station of nearest subway.
From the beginning of next year, buses will travel on a five-kilometer fast lane where there are four stops. In the first phase the driving will be autonomous only for a kilometer and then the distance will increase. When the service is available for passengers, there is a daily flow of about three hundred people. Statistical data will be collected such as average speed, punctuality, possible deviations and passenger satisfaction.
The data and above all their interpretation by software are the key to this project (and also to autonomous driving in general), because what makes the difference is how the central management system reacts to the unexpected. In this sense the urban scenario is the most difficult of all to decipher.