An Estonian consortium has completed an autonomous public transport pilot project in Greece; in two months, the Estonian autonomous bus, “Iseauto”, drove 1,930 kilometres (1,200 miles) on the streets of Lamia, carrying over 400 people.
The autonomous minibus, developed by Tallinn University of Technology – also known as TalTech – and AuveTech in Estonia is the first forth category autonomous vehicle that has officially been declared “street-legal” in Greece.
Testing the safety of pedestrians
The bus was tested under various circumstances in Lamia. It had to cope with the traditional traffic, take into consideration drivers and pedestrians, keep constant contact with the operating room and smart bus-stops.
“The top priority for Iseauto was the safety of pedestrians and light travellers. During the test period an expert fully aware of the characteristics of the bus accompanied each ride. The maximum speed was limited by the road authorities to 25 km/h,” TalTech said in a statement.
“A survey conducted during the pilot showed that passengers highly appreciated the experience. Passengers were particularly pleased with the safety of the self-driving bus service and expressed their readiness to use autonomous transport for their daily commute.”
A natural extension of public transport
The vice mayor for development planning and e-government of Lamia, Dimitris Kyritsis said the Lamia pilot had been an excellent opportunity for the city, the citizens, the visitors, the local businesses and the officials to evaluate the suitability, feasibility and sustainability of the technology, according to the TalTech statement.
Also, the pilot has highlighted the tangible benefits of autonomous bus services in public streets. “We truly believe that in the near future robot buses will be considered a natural extension of public transport in the city,” Kyritsis added.
The scientific work of the pilot, developing innovative solutions and testing them is the responsibility of TalTech, that also partnered in working out the first Iseauto prototype a few years ago.
The project is financed by the European Union and coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki. The pilots in both Tallinn, Estonia, and Lamia, Greece, are carried out by the Mobile Civitatem consortium, consisting of Modern Mobility, TalTech, Auve Tech and Fleet Complete, with Bercman Technologies acting as cooperation partner.
Cover: “Iseauto”, developed in Estonia, tested in Lamia, Greece. Photo by AuveTech.