About four weeks after Trapizio passed the inspection with flying colours, the next stage is now to follow: The survey and programming of the route. At the moment, we are implementing the upper section of route 12 only, from Industrieplatz to the centre, and the access way to the garage on the SIG site. The section from Industrieplatz to Schlössli Wörth will follow at a later date.
But we don't have the homologation and hence no numberplate … how is this possible?
On one hand, we have engaged a security service. Two employees of Protectas make sure the vehicle will be inside a secured zone at any time, by stopping traffic if necessary. We are closely coordinating with the Neuhausen administrative police. Every morning, we report our previous day's deployment and announce the new daily plan. On the other, the Schaffhausen transport authority, which will operate Trapizio in the future, has attached a temporary garage number to the vehicle.
Now, Trapizio needs to scan the route with its own sensors to draw up an exact map which it can use to find its way. It takes its bearings using building edges, walls, street lamps, edges of buildings and the like. GPS is available but too imprecise in the midst of buildings. To record the map, Trapizio is guided along the route by a specialist of the vehicle manufacturer, Navya, by means of a joystick. He transmits the read-in data to Navya. There, they are processed overnight and used to draw up the map.
In the next step, we load the map into the vehicle and set up the route on it. First, we define the precise trajectory. The latter shall normally be at the centre of the roadway, so that vehicles parked at the left and right roadsides, or other obstacles, will not disturb Trapizio.
Then, we determine the exact stop positions. This is not so easy because Trapizio must stop at the foremost position in the bus bay to not impede the buses of routes 1 and 6. But this is where the bus bay is narrow and slightly curved. Various tests and continuous improvements are needed until Trapizio stops exactly where we want it to.
Finally, we program the direction indicators and, above all, also the necessary right of way rules. Also this step necessitates several revisions of the programming. Trapizio shall pass by if a person stands at the roadside. But it shall stop if a person stands at a pedestrian crossing. Now, sometimes there also is a street lamp or a signpost near a pedestrian crossing. Trapizio must ignore these, or it would be standing there forever ...
Of course, our activities draw a lot of attention from passers-by. Some pull out their mobile phones and record the moment for eternity. We try to answer interested questions if time allows. Unfortunately, we have to decline all requests to get a ride.
We have now travelled our route countless times for a whole week and have ever more perfected all aspects. At first, we worked at night to have clear roads and a good view of the buildings. At a later stage, traffic and pedestrians were welcome so we could test the programmed right of way rules. Finally, we can do some automated rounds.
Once we have obtained official approval for road service, we can start the next stage: Integration into the control system of the Schaffhausen transport authority and hence coordination with the existing regular urban buses. But first, we take a deep breath ...