Positive conclusions for Hamburg’s autonomous on-demand shuttle

Berlin/Hamburg, 01 November 2021
eMoin_Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein VHH
Written by EasyMile
Hamburg, November 9th 2021 - As part of the research project and living laboratory “RealLabHH” in Hamburg, three highly automated EZ10 Gen3 shuttles were used to test autonomous driving in real-world conditions. Within two months of operations the shuttles transported more than 1,000 passengers from the residential area to the nearby train station.

Since the start of operations in September this year, the three zero-emission vehicles have driven a total of 1,325 kilometers, of which 231 kilometers were driven with visitors, journalists and experts as part of  the ITS World Congress last month. The most frequent trips were booked between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Although most passengers booked the shuttle first and foremost for the experience, some residents quickly became frequent users of the service. Most passengers reported a pleasant, safe and comfortable driving experience. The service hardly saw empty trips and was for free.

Safe Journey Through the Bergedorf District

As the current legislature in Germany doesn’t yet allow fully autonomous driving on public roads, the otherwise driverless vehicles were accompanied by onboard supervizors trained by project partner Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH.  These attendants accompanying the three automated EZ10 Gen3 shuttles didn’t need to intervene at any time due to a dangerous situation. 

Before hitting the road, the vehicles were also technically checked by experts from the Dekra Technology Center before they were approved for road use.

Project Partners Evaluate Details

The 5 project partners of the research project will evaluate their findings in more detail in the next few weeks. Nevertheless, an initial assessment has already been made.

Toralf Müller, Managing Director of transport provider Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH: “It’s a unique opportunity to experience automated vehicles in the framework of a research project. The enthusiasm of the passengers encourages us to further develop the technology in order to offer an automated mobility solution. As the second largest transport provider in Northern Germany we want to continue shaping the future of mobility in an innovative and sustainable way."

Andree Hohm, Director Driverless Mobility at Continental: “This project united players that usually don't have much in common: It brought together the public transport sector with the german aerospace center DLR and the automotive industry - this unique consortium turned out to be crucial for the success of the project. Although the operating area was very challenging,w e offered a reliable service and gained valuable knowledge that will help the further development of vehicle technology and software, especially when it comes to Sensor integration.”

Benedikt Sperling-Zikesch, Sales Director People Transport EMEA & Managing Director DACH EasyMile: “The Reallabor Hamburg aimed to test trends in mobility under real conditions - with success! For us, the route in Bergedorf was a real challenge with its many parked cars, various road users and narrow, sometimes steep Roads that have put our technology through its paces. We are very proud that our shuttles have proven themselves in this environment and offered a real service for residents and visitors.”

Bringing together different industries

The Institute for Transport Systems Technology at the German Aerospace Center DLR provided the Software for scheduling the demand-controlled availability of the shuttles and coordinated the algorithm for route planning of the shuttles. This avoided empty runs and the operations were made most efficient. 

Credit: EasyMile GmbH

The technology company Continental developed an app that enabled passengers to book journeys quickly and easily using their mobile phones. Continental also added radar and lidar sensors to the already existing set for extended high-precision Localization and detection of the vehicle’s environment. Furthermore an emergency braking system was integrated and tested that was uniquely designed and adapted for the use of autonomous shuttles.

About the RealLabHH Project

The “Reallabor Hamburg” project started in July with the hand-over of the funding agreement by the Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer. Under the direction of Hamburger Hochbahn AG, around 30 project partners are developing digital mobility solutions in the RealLabHH living laboratory in a shared ecosystem in Hamburg and the metropolitan region. A total of 11 sub-projects provide insights into which digital mobility solutions can prove themselves under real conditions and offer people a real service.

The RealLabHH project runs until the end of 2021 and is funded by the BMVI (Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) with around 20.5 million euro.