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Pilot insights: Applied Autonomy's pilot in Norway

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News
date
9 October 2019

Autonomous shuttles are being piloted in over 120 cities around the world, but most of these pilots legally require a safety host on board the vehicle in order to receive an operating permit from the authorities. Although the main task of the safety host is to inform the passengers of how the shuttles operate and why they are being tested, and not to steer the vehicle, they still serve an important function to control the vehicle, and to support it when needed.

In a pilot by Applied Autonomy, in the Testsite Kongsberg City&Lab, the safety operator has been taken out of the autonomous shuttle. Brakar, the PTA in the city of Kongsberg in Norway, has replaced 2 regular city buses with 2 shuttles from EasyMile for one year now. The nine first months of operations was led by Sohjoa Baltic and the Intereg Baltic research project. VY is the PTO, and Applied Autonomy is responsible for safety, security and the remote tower solution “Autonomous Mobility Enabler (AME)”.

Applied Autonomy

Applied Autonomy

The transport service with autonomous shuttles has since June 2019 been a commercial and a regular service for commuters, tourists, seniors and school children, in a 4.4 kilometer-long trajectory from the main bus and railway station to the industrial park. Two autonomous shuttles have been in operation in narrow streets, in a trajectory with 15% degrees steep slopes.

Brakar has reduced their CO2 emission by replacing ordinary buses with electric autonomous shuttles. Number of passengers has increased by 5% and the feedback from the passenger is very positive.

During the winter months, a lot was learned about operation of autonomous vehicles in winter conditions with low temperatures down to - 18 degrees Celsius, falling snow and snowbanks in narrow city streets with much street parking. The common ambition was not to increase the budget for snow removal from previous winter and to learn how the vehicles performs in different conditions. Snowbanks closer than 30 cm were the biggest problem - the solution was to do the work in a different order than before.

Kindergartens, school classes and seniors has been invited to discuss and to find solutions for the future transport system in Kongsberg, and their involvement has been proven very valuable to the service of autonomous vehicles. According to Applied Autonomy, these activities have improved the awareness of public transport in general, and how citizens of Kongsberg view the innovation in public transport. Overall, usage of public transport has increased by 15% in Kongsberg last the year.

Credits: Applied Autonomy

Applied Autonomy is one of the partners of the UITP Automated Mobility Conference, taking place in Brussels on 24 October.

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Lexicon

7 words explained

platooning

Also known as flocking. A collection of (automated) vehicles that travel together, actively coordinated in formation. Platoons decrease the distances between vehicles using electronic, and possibly mechanical, coupling. Platooning allows many vehicles to accelerate or brake simultaneously.

urban setting

High density environment with an efficient high capacity public transport system with good capillarity and high frequencies.

suburban setting

Medium density environment with a good public transport system with radial connections to the city center, but lower capillarity and frequencies. This setting includes suburban cities.

small cities

Small, isolated city with an own public transport system and <100K inhabitants.

rural

Low-density environment, small cities and villages with poor public transport services mainly connecting the villages.

SAE level

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels define the level of vehicle autonomy, or in other words, how much human intervention is still needed for an automated vehicle to operate. Currently, five SAE levels have been defined: Level 0: Automated system issues warnings and may momentarily intervene but has no sustained vehicle control. Level 1 (hands on): Driver and automatic system share vehicle control. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Level 2 (hands off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 3 (eyes off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 4 (mind off): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, e.g. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver's seat. Level 5 (steering wheel optional): No human intervention is required at all. An example would be a robotic taxi.

V2X

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication is the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa.