Driverless minibus service rolls out in Hamburg traffic

August 13, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Driverless minibus service rolls out in Hamburg traffic
The HEAT project will see a driverless minibus travelling a 2km circuit in traffic supported by curbside data infrastructure

A self driving minibus has started operation in the traffic of Hamburg.

The HEAT (Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation) project will run for two months ahead of the ITS World Congress in the city.

“HEAT marks the first research project in Germany in which an autonomous bus operates under real traffic conditions through a control center in the middle of a Germany city,” said Henrik Falk, CEO of travel operator Hochbahn.

The autonomously operating minibus was developed by German provider IAV, has three seats and standing room for four, and is equipped with a ramp for barrier-free entries and exits. Due to the pandemic-related hygiene regulations currently in effect, capacity is limited to three persons at the same time. The only requirement for riding is a prior registration per app and wearing a standard medical mask.  

“The HEAT concept enables us to safely operate a fully automated shuttle for local public transport in the HafenCity of Hamburg. HEAT demonstrates what the sustainable, user-oriented mobility of tomorrow could look like – a future that IAV, as a provider of high-tech solutions, is playing a key role in shaping,” said Matthias Kratzsch, Chairman of the Managing Board at IAV.

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The vehicle’s direct observation and assessment of its surroundings is based on a system of radar and lidar sensors supported by cameras. The minibus also relies on the new route infrastructure developed by Siemens Mobility and installed by Hamburg Verkehrsanlagen (HHVA).

In addition, it uses a high-resolution map of its current route, accurate down to a few centimeters, provided by the city of Hamburg. The shuttle processes information from the map to precisely determine its position after comparing it with data from its immediate surroundings for navigation.

The use of roadside infrastructure is a unique feature

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