Fully Driverless Shuttle Service Launched at Kongsberg Technology Park

A driverless EZ10 Shuttle is now providing an on-demand service and driving entirely without an operator on board inside Kongsberg Technology Park in the framework of the EU project “Sohjoa Last Mile”. A supervisor will monitor the bus from a remote control center.

driverless shuttle kongsberg
Operations without an operator on board will continue until the end of October.

The driverless shuttle, which is part of an EU project entitled “Sohjoa Last Mile”, has been operating inside the Technology Park since June, but only now has it become possible to take the operator off the shuttle and supervise the vehicle from a remote control centre instead. The control centre is manned by specially trained bus drivers from transport operator Vy. The bus is programmed on a fixed route of ca. 3.4 km inside the Technology Park, and will now operate as an on-demand service. People inside the park can order the bus and specify the pick-up place and time. There are set bus stops that the bus drives between, and it operates on weekdays from 07:30 until 14:30.

Research Project

Kongsberg Municipality leads the Norwegian pilot, with Brakar, Statens Vegvesen, Applied Autonomy and Vy as partners. The project, which also comprises pilots in Tallinn and Gdansk, is a research and development project which aims to analyse and test self-driving minibuses without an operator on board in order to make recommendations to policy makers.

Head of business development in Kongsberg Municipality, Ingar Vaskinn, said:

We in Kongsberg are confident to have the best partners on board in this ambitious project, and we are happy to have achieved this important milestone.

The Shuttle will drive on a closed track inside the Technology Park in Kongsberg, but in mixed traffic with pedestrians, trucks, cars, forklifts, and other industrial vehicles.

Senior advisor Elisabeth Skuggevik, Statens Vegvesen, said:

Research and development projects like this one are important to quickly drive forward the progress of both technology and regulations, to ensure a safe introduction into ordinary public transport.

Important for Future Solutions

The vehicle that is used in the Technology Park is an EZ10 Gen3. This model has also been tested on route 450 in Kongsberg, which operates as a fixed bus route between the Technology Park and Kongsberg train station. The Sohjoa project is important for the development of the other projects that we have with self-driving buses in Kongsberg and in Drammen, with a view to being able to run the buses without an operator on board in the future. These advances make the technology more competitive, says Brakar’s CEO Terje Sundfjord.

Continuous Monitoring

When the bus operates entirely on its own, safety is ensured from a control centre inside the Technology Park. The control centre has been developed by Kongsberg-based solution provider Applied Autonomy in collaboration with EasyMile. The bus is continuously monitored via cameras that are filming both outside and inside the bus. If need be, the bus can be remotely stopped from the control centre. Passengers on board the bus can get in touch with the control centre at any time via an intercom inside the bus.

Applied Autonomy’s CEO, Olav Madland, said:

This is the first step on the way to reaching the economic gain that is to be expected when multiple buses can be supervised simultaneously from the control centre.

Operations without an operator on board will continue until the end of October.

This article was originally published by EasyMile.


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