In-Depth

Integration of a self-driving vehicle into the control system in Bern

  22.10.2019

Bernmobil and its project partners have been testing a self-driving vehicle of the French manufacturer EasyMile in the Swiss Capital since 8 July 2019. The AVOC (Autonomous Vehicle Operation Centre) software solution developed by AMoTech fully integrates the self-driving shuttle into the control centre supplied by Trapeze. This allows the vehicle to be monitored by the control centre and displayed on all passenger information channels.

Bernmobil and partners open line 23
Since the beginning of July 2019, the public transport authority of Bern (Bernmobil) and its project partners Migros Aare, Stadt Bern and ewb have been testing a self-driving bus of the French manufacturer EasyMile. The vehicle runs every hour between the Marzilibahn valley station and the Bärenpark in Bern.

AMoTech, the Competence Center for Autonomous Mobility
Thanks to the AVOC software solution from AMoTech GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of Trapeze Switzerland GmbH, the shuttle is fully integrated into the control system supplied by Trapeze for the public transport authority of Bern. This enables Bernmobil's dispatchers to monitor and coordinate the entire fleet with buses and trams, and now also the self-driving vehicle. In addition, Bernmobil was advised by AMoTech on vehicle homologation procedure and on the application to obtain the exception permit for the automated vehicle.

Facts about line 23
Line 23 runs according to the timetable. On weekdays from 09:00 to 17:00 the automated shuttle connects the Marzili quarter with the Bear Park. Anyone interested can enjoy the free ride on the approximately two kilometer long route, which stretches along the Aare below the federal parliament and through the Matte Quarter. With an average speed of 5.5 km/h, it serves six stops. On the entire route, the speed for all traffic is limited to 30 km/h. The speed for the entire traffic is also limited to 30 km/h. The programmed maximum speed of the shuttle, which the residents already affectionately call "Matteschnägg" (snail of Matte, the residential area where the vehicle operates) in their blog, is less than 20 km/h. The speed of the shuttle is limited to a maximum of 20 km/h. The speed of the shuttle is limited to a maximum of 20 km/h.

"Matteschnägg" is constantly accompanied
The vehicle moves in mixed traffic and masters a section with paving stones, a roundabout, a 15% gradient and several bottlenecks. At the moment the vehicle does not get by without human help. Like all other pilot projects approved in Switzerland with self-driving vehicles in public transport, Bernmobil's own requires a trained steward in the vehicle. This person must monitor the vehicle at all times and intervene if necessary. It also gives the vehicle permission to continue its journey at defined points, such as the bottlenecks mentioned above. There, the steward checks whether no vehicles are approaching and only issues the release if oncoming traffic is not impaired as far as possible.

Vehicle from EasyMile
The vehicle produced by EasyMile is located with centimeter precision using LIDAR sensors and GNSS positioning. In addition, further LIDAR sensors detect objects and stop in the lane if there are obstacles. If it is impossible to continue driving in such situations, the steward intervenes and avoids the obstacle manually. As soon as the steward has manoeuvred the vehicle back into its lane, he returns control to the shuttle so that it can continue driving automatically. In a future software version, EasyMile plans to automatically overtake static obstacles.

Changing mobility
Self-driving vehicles will significantly change mobility as we know it today. In a few years' time, no steward will be needed in the vehicle. The vehicles will be mature enough to master all situations independently. In order not to clog up the roads with empty, autonomous vehicles, it is important to make public transport more efficient and cost-effective. The aim is for public transport to cover a large proportion of society's mobility needs. The monitoring and coordination of all types of transport is carried out by a central control centre.

Control centre integration through software solution AVOC
The AVOC software solution already enables the integration of self-driving vehicles into the control systems of Trapeze and other manufacturers. This solution serves as a bridge between the background systems of the vehicle manufacturers and the control system. The existing functionality of the control center makes it possible to monitor and coordinate the vehicle, prepare passenger information or make statistical evaluations.

Virtual cockpit for self-driving vehicles
The role of the driver is not limited to driving. He monitors the vehicle with all his senses: Vibrations, odours, noises If the driver detects a deviation from the standard, he either becomes active himself or informs the control centre or the garage personnel.

In an autonomous vehicle, the driver drops out. For this reason, this information is first detected by sensors, some of which have yet to be developed, and then transferred to the control system. Now the dispatcher can and must step into the breach: The AVOC Dispatcher web application turns the control system into a virtual cockpit for self-driving vehicles. Displays and lights, switches and levers: All operating elements of a conventional vehicle must be visible and operable from the control center.

The dispatcher has access at all times to current information on the battery, speed, door status and various temperatures. He can see whether the vehicle is being operated by the steward or whether it is being transported automatically. AVOC is constantly being developed and the range of functions and information available in the control centre is constantly being expanded.

App for the steward
For the time being, a steward must be present on self-driving vehicles. This person is considered to be the driver and must, as long as he or she is in the vehicle, have appropriate knowledge of all operationally relevant information. AMoTech has developed an app especially for the steward. The main function of this app is the operational registration of the vehicle for one circulation. In addition, the steward can call up information on the vehicle and communicate with the control centre thanks to the AVOC Attendant web application.

(Photo: Bernmobil) The vehicle produced by EasyMile can transport up to eight passengers and one accompanying person in Bern.
Line 23 connects Marzili with Bärenpark every hour.
With the AVOC solution developed by AMoTech, the dispatcher in the control centre can monitor the self-propelled shuttle at any time.