This is the latest news about the automated shuttle bus in Neuhausen am Rheinfall: Regular scheduled services are fast approaching. As early as in mid-March this year, people may spot the 11-seat vehicle in the streets of central Neuhausen. This means that for the first time ever, a self-driving vehicle is being integrated in an operations control system of a public transport authority.
In July 2017, the self-driving bus of the future was presented to the public in Neuhausen am Rheinfall on the test premises of the Swiss Transit Lab – the official name of the mobility lab of Schaffhausen. Since then, preparatory work for extending test operations have made significant progress. Thus, in the past weeks, surveying of the route in central Neuhausen has been completed. However, to date the vehicle number plate has not yet arrived. It can only be issued upon approval of the Swiss federal office of traffic (Bundesamt für Strassen, ASTRA), which we expect to happen in the next few days. Then, people will be able to spot the automated vehicle plying through the streets between Industrieplatz and the town centre – but always with a person on board. This means testing in regular scheduled service may start very soon.
In February the self-driving bus is first to be used by our project partner VBZ – the public transport authority of Zürich – in extended tests on its company premises in Zürich. The insights thereby gained are to flow directly into the project at the Rhine Falls. After returning and after a brief interlude at the IT-Trans in Karlsruhe, the trade fair for smart public passenger transport solutions, the vehicle is to finally start travelling through central Neuhausen in mid-March – first only for testing purposes and only sporadically. This means that for the first time ever, an automated vehicle will ply through the streets in regular scheduled services and be integrated in the operations control system of the public transport authority of Schaffhausen.
In addition, the impact of self-driving vehicles on society will be scientifically examined. In a study conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH), questionnaires will be sent in the next few days to about 20,000 people living in the Canton of Schaffhausen. The purpose of this survey is to find out how the population feels about automated vehicles in general and the present project in particular. This is to enable possible concerns to be identified and addressed.
In early 2018, the partners involved in the project from the beginning set up the Swiss Transit Lab. On the test premises in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, they have committed themselves to developing services and solutions for tomorrow’s (autonomous) mobility. Overall co-ordination will be in the hands of the global public transport system specialist Trapeze, its affiliated company AMoTech and the public transport authority of Schaffhausen (Verkehrsbetriebe VBSH). They will be supported by the regional and location development office of the Canton of Schaffhausen. The aim is not only to get the self-driving shuttle into the streets of Schaffhausen, but also to help shape future mobility in an international context with additional partners.