The “Line 12” project related to the self-driving bus of the Swiss Transit Lab in Neuhausen am Rheinfall today made another step towards regular scheduled operation of the self-driving bus: Today, the vehicle seating 11 passengers started operating in the town centre of Neuhausen am Rheinfall – integrated in the operations control system of the public transport authority of Schaffhausen (Verkehrsbetriebe Schaffhausen, VBSH). This means that with immediate effect, the public at large may also use the bus.
The first phase of the “Line 12” pilot project involving the self-driving bus has now been completed, and testing is to be transferred from the SIG premises to the streets of Neuhausen am Rheinfall. Following approval by the Swiss Federal Office of Road Traffic (ASTRA), CEO Trapeze Peter Schneck and VBSH Director Bruno Schwager attached the number plate to the 11-seat bus named “Trapizio” on 27 March 2018. This means that the bus from now on will officially travel in mixed traffic along with normal vehicles through the town centre of Neuhausen am Rheinfall. “This marks the kick-off of our journey towards Stage 5 of autonomous mobility, when ultimately no person will be needed for attendance on board anymore,” said Schneck.
“With this step, we have added yet another chapter to the traffic history of the Canton of Schaffhausen,” said Director of the Economy Ernst Landolt in his welcoming address. This is because internationally distinguished railway carriages, trams or cable cars have been manufactured before on the SIG premises, where the mobility laboratory of Swiss Transit Lab is based. The Swiss Transit Lab was set up in early 2018. On the test premises in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, the development of services and solutions for covering tomorrow’s mobility needs is being pushed. The leading forces at the Swiss Transit Lab are the global public transport system specialist Trapeze, its affiliated company AMoTech and the public transport authority of Schaffhausen VBSH. They are receiving support from the office of regional and site development of the Canton of Schaffhausen. The goal is not only to get the self-driving shuttle onto the streets of Schaffhausen, but also to design the mobility of the future in an international context with additional partners.
Thus, future projects are also to be tackled that address Smart City topics, explains Patrick Schenk, managing director of the office of regional and site development of the Canton of Schaffhausen. In this context, the “Line 12“ project by itself is already involving the project team in numerous areas of “Smart Mobility”, including issues related to ticketing systems, depot and parking solutions or “Mobility as a Service” solutions (Maas). For Christoph Schärrer, delegate for business promotion of the Canton of Schaffhausen, this makes the Swiss Transit Lab an exemplary instance of the role that Schaffhausen is playing as an applications-centred region. “Around the Swiss Transit Lab, Schaffhausen is set to develop into a centre of competence for mobility solutions of the future,” says Schärrer.
First and foremost, the project partners are now focussing on the further integration of the self-driving bus in the VBSH network. “The Schaffhausen shuttle is the first self-driving bus in the world to be integrated in the operations control system of a public transport operator, through which it is monitored together with the regular vehicles of VBSH,” explains AMoTech managing director Dominique Müller.
VBSH has in addition hired and trained three attendants who are always also on board the bus during trips. “They can take control of the bus whenever required through a gamepad, also acting as contacts for passengers,” said VBSH director Schwager. For the time being, the bus is mostly to be in service from 1 to 5 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays and public holidays. Owing to in-house testing and maintenance requirements, it will not be available to passengers every day, which is why its exact timetable is published on www.swisstransitlab.com.
Patrick Schenk also presented initial results of the acceptance study conducted on the project by the Institute of Science, Technology and Politics of the ETH in Zürich. Of the 8000 people invited to take part, over 1400 have already responded. He added: “Most of the people surveyed welcome tests involving self-driving vehicles and believe the project here in Neuhausen is meaningful.”
Find more information on the project and the Swiss Transit Lab at www.swisstransitlab.com