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Robot buses to operate in Tampere

Two driverless robot buses have started their trial runs in Hervanta, Tampere. Everyone is welcome aboard, free of charge!

Hop on! Fritz Lorek, an automotive journalist from Germany, is excited about the robot bus. Depending on the weather conditions, the robot buses will operate four hours per day, between 10 am and 4 pm. Photo: Pirkko Laitinen/ Tredea

The two electric, pollution-free robot buses arrived in Hervanta, Tampere, on 17 October. Now that the route has been set up, the buses will operate from 1 November onwards on a route running between Tampere University of Technology and the nearby Hervantakeskus shopping centre. The maximum capacity of the bus is 9 passengers.

There will always be at least one project representative on board, responsible for safe operation and testing. The trial runs in Tampere are a direct follow-up from trials previously conducted in Hernesaari, Helsinki and Otaniemi, Espoo. These trials are a significant step towards promoting automatic driving both in Finland and globally.

The goal of the project is to test an automated public transport solution in an authentic traffic environment and to analyse how a solution of this kind could enhance and develop our current transport system. In conjunction with the pilot, the SOHJOA project offers an open innovation platform for companies, allowing them to test and develop their solutions and equipment related to automated driving.

“Electric robot buses introduce an interesting new solution to the transport system. In future, robot buses may enable public transport in areas external to the main public transport networks. Real-life tests give us valuable information on how these new solutions can increase the attractiveness of public transport. Experiences from three different test environments also helps us evaluate which environments are best suited for robot buses”, says Assistant Professor Heikki Liimatainen from Transport Research Centre Verne at Tampere University of Technology.

“The SOHJOA project provides SME companies with an opportunity to test and launch their projects in an environment that both media and markets find tempting and interesting. The possibility to develop products in an autonomic vehicle that operates in an authentic environment gives companies a great advantage. For example, Taipale Telematics will introduce ‘Inspector’, a test dummy carrying equipment that enables us to monitor and analyse the quality of driving from the passenger’s perspective,” says Heikki Karintaus, Taipale Telematics CEO and Chairman of the ITS Factory ppp network.

New expertise and business

The SOHJOA project is a part of The Six City Strategy (6Aika), a joint strategy between the six largest cities in Finland, which aims to create open and innovative services. The main goal is to create new expertise, business and jobs in Finland. The pilot project is coordinated by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, and the other involved parties include Aalto University, Forum Virium Helsinki, Finnish Geographical Institute and Tampere University of Technology.

Alongside the project, there is another, preparatory project run by Metropolia and Demos Helsinki. In that project, new Finnish export goods and services are sought through cooperation between companies and research groups.

The operation of automated vehicles in a Finnish environment is tested as a part of the NordicWay project funded by Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi and Finnish Transport Agency Liikennevirasto. The NordicWay project tackles the challenges of new traffic services.

Additional information:

Responsible person for the pilot in Tampere: Lasse Nykänen, tel. + 358 (0) 50 303 1268, lasse.nykanen@tut.fi Transport Research Centre Verne/TUT.

Project Manager Harri Santamala, +358 (0) 40 334 1516, harri.santamala@metropolia.fi, Metropolia UAS

Further information on the project: http://www.sohjoa.fi/in-english

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