The Estonian autonomous vehicle manufacturer, Auve Tech, and the University of Tartu have developed an autonomous hydrogen-powered shuttle bus – claimed to be the first of its kind in the world; the vehicle has passed the Estonian Road Administration’s test and is allowed to start operating on public roads.
The new shuttle bus will be officially launched in the Estonian town of Tartu on 5 July.
The shuttle seats up to six passengers and is aimed at enhancing the last-mile transportation. It operates with the help of low-temperature hydrogen fuel cells developed in the University of Tartu.
The shuttle is capable of autonomous driving in open and closed areas similarly to Auve Tech’s other autonomous vehicles and its actions can be overseen with the help of teleoperation from a distant control centre.
An environmentally friendly alternative
According to Johannes Mossov, the CEO of Auve Tech, the hydrogen vehicle is an environmentally friendly alternative.
“The hydrogen created by the fuel cells functions as a power source in the vehicle and the only by-products are vaporised water and heat. The fast charging of the vehicle allows more working hours for the vehicle, increasing the efficiency and introducing a way to integrate autonomous transportation to our everyday lives,” he said in a statement.
Auve Tech’s self-driving vehicle concept grew out of the cooperation with the Tallinn University of Technology that started in 2017. The University of Tartu and Auve Tech signed a cooperation agreement in 2020 to develop a hydrogen-powered version of the vehicle – the result of which will be officially launched on 5 July.
According to Enn Lust, the director of the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Tartu, the university has developed “next-generation fuel cells” that operate at “significantly lower” temperatures than previously available on the market. “This ensures a significantly longer life for these devices, and they are also several times safer,” Lust said in a statement.
Cover: Auve Tech’s hydrogen-powered autonomous shuttle bus. Photo by Auve Tech.