Integrating Autonomous Vehicles in a Public Transportation System

Shotl envisions a future world where roads are safer, air is cleaner, and public transport is abundant and accessible to all, rendering private car ownership unnecessary. This utopia is made possible by autonomous vehicles (AVs), which promise to reduce traffic fatalities by eliminating human error and allowing for more efficient allocation of public transport funds. Helsinki's Pasila neighbourhood, a bustling hub for commuter traffic, was selected as a testing ground for the Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation Systems (FABULOS) project.

Collaborating with Finnish manufacturer Sensible4, Shotl adapted its on-demand ride pooling and dispatching technology to work with GACHA, the world's first all-weather autonomous bus. During the pilot test, three autonomous buses operated along a fixed route between Pasila station and the Messukeskus Fair centre, with human safety drivers onboard during working hours. At peak times, buses circulated continuously between fixed stops, while during off-peak times, users were able to request pickups and drop-offs via the Passenger App, facilitated by Shotl's technology and Boldly's fleet management platform.

Funded by the EU as part of Horizon 2020 and coordinated by Forum Virium, the City of Helsinki's innovation company, this pilot project provided valuable insights. Shotl adapted its technology to the demands of autonomous driving, while Sensible4 gained an understanding of the requirements for flexible on-demand services. The integration of AVs into public transport systems holds promise for enhanced efficiency, with the ability to dynamically adjust routes based on passenger demand.

Looking ahead, the aim is to transition to a model where one human can oversee multiple vehicles remotely from a command centre. This necessitates on-board sensors to monitor passenger activity, so collaboration with innovative technology providers is key to addressing this and challenges in bringing AVs to our roads in the near future.

The Pasila FABULOS test demonstrated the viability of on-demand AVs as a first/last-mile solution for cities, paving the way for safer, more efficient, and more accessible public transport. Shotl successfully adapted its technology to real-world autonomous driving, providing a user-friendly interface for real-time interaction with AVs. By deploying vehicles only when requested during off-peak times, efficiency was improved and transport resources were optimized. Building on the learnings from this pilot, Shotl swiftly established operations for a second FABULOS test in a residential area of Gjesdal, Norway.

In summary, the integration of AVs into public transport systems holds promise for revolutionizing urban mobility, making transportation safer, more efficient, and accessible for all. Through collaboration and innovation, Shotl and its partners are driving the future of transportation towards a more sustainable and interconnected world.

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