Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced that its first project to operate autonomous on-demand vehicles in normal traffic will be launched in the Rhine-Main region of Germany this May.

Initially, an autonomous vehicle will be deployed in Darmstadt, followed by 14 more vehicles in the following months. Eight of these will operate in the Offenbach district, while seven will drive in Darmstadt.

Autonomous On-Demand
The declared goal of RMV and DB is to win new customers for local public transport

In the first test phase, the shuttles will be supervised by specially trained drivers and will operate without passengers.

The second test phase will then run with test customers, prior to the vehicles being integrated into the existing on-demand services in Darmstadt and Offenbach.

This project is part of an ongoing collaboration between DB and RMV to establish Germany’s largest on-demand network. As part of the initiative, more than 100 on-demand vehicles will be launched across Germany by the end of the year.

With these deployments, RMV and DB aim to encourage more customers to use local public transport by offering flexible on-demand options.

Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport said:

Especially in rural areas, the demand for more local public transport services with low demand often reaches its economic limits. In addition, there will be a shortage of around 87,000 bus drivers in Germany by 2030. This combination presents us with a major problem, because we urgently need public transport to achieve our climate goals.

Self-driving e-shuttles that can be called when needed are therefore a real game changer, especially for rural areas. And best of all: This is not science fiction, but will be part of the regular public transport offer in our country from next year.

The autonomous vehicles will be operated by DB’s subsidiary, CleverShuttle, while the software for booking and route planning is provided by ioki and the autonomous driving system is supplied by Mobileye.


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