Germany: RMV and DB to Deploy On-Demand Autonomous Shuttles

Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) and Deutsche Bahn (DB) have announced they will operate autonomous on-demand shuttles in the Rhine-Main region of Germany from 2023.

On-demand services are rapidly increasing in popularity across Europe, and many low-capacity scheduled services are being converted to on-demand services using smaller vehicles. This change helps meet sustainability targets by reducing the number of empty vehicles on the road, while also improving the flexibility of the service for passengers.

RMV and DB have been implementing Germany’s largest on-demand service since 2021. The transport operators now anticipate that adding autonomous vehicles to this on-demand network will further strengthen the area’s local public transport.

On-demand autonomous shuttles
Together, RMV and DB want to implement the world’s first autonomous shuttle fleet, which is to be fully integrated into the regular operation of public transport
VDV Vice President and RMV Managing Director Prof. Knut Ringat said

“At RMV, we have the largest on-demand mobility network in Germany under the umbrella of the network with nine partners. On-demand transport is highly attractive for passengers and thus offers great potential for the mobility transition. On a large scale, however, they can only be economically represented in autonomous operation. That's why we want to test autonomous vehicles in regular operation in two regions for the first time next year.”

In 2023, Germany’s first on-demand autonomous network will operate in Darmstadt and the district of Offenbach in Level 4 automation. Through this project, RMV and DB intend to implement the world’s first autonomous shuttle fleet that is fully integrated into the regular public transport network.

CEO of DB Regio said:

“Autonomous driving on demand is an important step towards better public transport services in the area and thus more climate-friendly mobility for all people in Germany. Together with the RMV, we want to put the world's first autonomous on-demand fleet on the road in regular public transport operation as early as next year. Only with driverless shuttles, which travel at normal speeds, can we create public transport that people can board anywhere and at any time.”

Throughout the deployment, DB technology company ioki will supply the on-demand software, while CleverShuttle will implement the on-site operation alongside local partners, Heag mobilo and kvgOF.

This initiative is in line with Germany’s recent Mobility Transition 2030 study, which concluded that the future of public transit needs to be flexible and digitally networked.

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