Two robot buses without drivers started their trial runs in Otaniemi, Espoo. The two electric, pollution-free robot buses entered Otaniemi by 19.9 and after the route has been set up, the buses will operate on a course that runs between Betonimiehenkuja, Lämpömiehenkuja and Metallimiehenkuja. Welcome aboard, free of charge! The maximum capacity in the bus is 9 persons.
The trial runs in Espoo is direct follow-up from the trial runs in Hernesaari, Helsinki and it is a significant step in promoting automatic driving both in Finland, but also globally.
“Otaniemi turned out to be a very suitable testing environment, where we can test the robotic bus without disturbing other traffic too much. The robot buses are excellent addition to the internal public transport system in Otaniemi”, says Johanna Nyberg, the Head of Transport Management and IT in City of Espoo.
Nyberg states that the traffic arrangements and safety has been assessed thoroughly.
“During this trial, we want to find out how automatic driving works in urban traffic, our interest lies in the traffic safety, planning and management. At the same time, it is possible for us to find out how robot buses affect the behavior of other road users.”
Test bed for enterprises
The trial runs with the robot buses open up new, interesting possibilities for enterprises and corporations.
“One of the main goals in the trial runs is that Finnish companies could test their new services and products, for example different sensors. These companies have a prime opportunity to go along with the development of robotic traffic”, says the Manager of Economic and Business Development in the City of Espoo, Harri Paananen.
Pilot project is coordinated by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and it is a part of two-year long SOHJOA-project. After the Otaniemi trial, the buses will run also in Tampere during 2016.
The SOHJOA-project is a part of 6Aika-strategy, a joint strategy between the six largest cities in Finland, which aims to create more open and innovative services. Main goal is to create new knowhow, business and jobs in Finland. The partners are Aalto University, Forum Virium Helsinki, Finnish Geographical Institute and Tampere University of Technology.
Alongside the project, there is another preparation project run by Metropolia and Demos Helsinki, where Finnish novel export goods and services are sought through cooperation of companies and research entities.
Operation of automated vehicles in Finnish environment is tested as part of the NordicWay project funded by Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi and Finnish Transport Agency Liikennevirasto. NordicWay project tackles the challenges of new traffic services and road transport automation.
More information about the project: http://www.sohjoa.fi/in-english