Successful completion of the ABSOLUT research project
The closing conference of the ABSOLUT project was held at the Leipzig exhibition center on November 28th. Sponsors and project contributors came together to review and discuss the results of their joint work.
The event began with words of welcome from Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe (LVB), the City of Leipzig, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) as project sponsor and the Verband deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (VDV). For the subsequent technical session, partners from the project consortium were on hand at various information points to explain their specific contributions to the project and to answer any detailed questions. The actual protagonists of the project – the vehicles EasyMile and VW eCrafter – were also present. The guests again enjoyed opportunities to take a ride on the e-Crafter and to experience the autonomous driving capabilities of the ABSOLUT shuttle for themselves.
“The project represents a milestone in the development of autonomous vehicles for local public transport. Many different topics were addressed, many corresponding solutions were developed, and we have provided a great deal of input for the branch, which we at VDV will be taking up in our future work,” said Martin Schmitz, managing director for engineering at Verband deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen.
Over the past three years, the ABSOLUT project has developed the necessary technologies for highly automated, on-demand local public transport and tested these technologies in practice. The tests included trials of an electric shuttle bus licensed for highly automated driving on public roads at speeds up to 50 km/h. The shuttle bus is networked with correspondingly upgraded traffic lights along the route and is monitored by an on-board safety driver.
The project was a successful demonstration of the technical feasibility of automated, on-demand public transport in suburban settings. From a mobility strategy perspective, such services could in future be a valuable option when seeking to extend the reach of local public transport on the outskirts of urban centers.
It was naturally not yet possible to establish regular services within the framework of this initial technology development. The next step must therefore be to elaborate a reference solution for genuine driver-less operation. The partner consortium aims to continue the project and is currently preparing the required application documents for ABSOLUT 2.0.