21 March 2019, Longyearbyen, Norway – The EZ10 driverless shuttle became the first autonomous vehicle to operate in the Arctic Circle in Longyearbyen, Norway.
In partnership with Applied Autonomy, Arctic Memory and Svalbard Buss og Taxi, the EZ10 will serve 4 stations on a snow covered road. The aim of this project is to develop a sustainable transport solution for especially tourists in the Arctic city.
Can autonomous vehicles master demanding snow conditions and low temperatures in Arctic regions?
Applied Autonomy has since October 2018 and through the winter operated an autonomous bus service in the project Sohjoa Baltic and Kongsberg Testarena City&Lab. The transport service has been included in the daily bus service to the public transport company Brakar.
But a bus service in Kongsberg is not enough to convince skeptics and develop advanced solutions that work everywhere, says Olav Madland. Therefore , Applied Autonomy last week took a big new step when an autonomous shuttle operated as the first autonomous vehicle in in the arctic area.
Longyearbyen is a small town on Svalbard 100 kilometers from the North Pole . from 74° to 81° north latitude. The small city has a population of 2200 inhabitants and is a self-sufficient community with university, hospital, cinema, library, school, kindergarten. The activity in the city is high all year round with an active business sector with industry, fishing and a growing tourist activity.
Innovation Norway, Sparebank 1 Nord-Norge, Longyearbyen Local government, Arctic Memory, Kongsberg Industrien and Applied Autonomy has started preparing a preliminary study for an Arctic visitor center and a green flexible and reliable transport service to the visitor center in Longyearbyen. As part of the pre-study, an autonomous electric bus from EasyMile was deployed in service in Longyearbyen. The bus was linked to the control center services of Applied Autonomy to document how the vehicle handeled the challenging weather and wind conditions, topology, energy consumption and accessibility.
“We also documented the feedback from the public”, says Olav Madland, general manager of Applied Autonomy. He is responsible for the operational service that was put into operation and has broad and deep insight into all the challenges that need to be addressed. “Driving here in Longyearbyen close to the North Pole, confirms that we are on the right way in developing solutions that can work everywhere”.
Applied Autonomy was established in 2017 by Olav Madland who brought autonomous electric vehicles to Norway. He is responsible for over 25 different large and small pilot projects with autonomous minibuses in Norway. The company develops control center services for autonomous vehicles and delivers integration frameworks to link autonomous vehicles to operators companies, public transport companies and regulatory authorities. The rapidly growing company has 5 employees, and is now ready to export its technology. The company’s owners are Kongsberg Innovation, the VY Group and Olav Madland as the founder.