With the aim to explore the safe introduction of self-driving autonomous electric vehicles in complex urban areas, transportation company Keolis has launched an autonomous vehicle trial in Stockholm, Sweden.
In the trials in partnership with Urban ICT Arena, Telia, Ericsson Intel and T-engineering, a self-driving electric minibus is being operated using 5G technology to remotely control and supervise the vehicle.
The pilot project explores how a system with 5G-connected vehicles, which are monitored by a control tower remotely, can facilitate the safe introduction of self-driving electric buses in more complex and demanding urban areas. Benefits of such a system include improved route planning and traffic flows, reduced operational costs and pollution and a more reliable, accessible form of public transport for passengers.
The unique technical features of the 5G network, including extremely high data speeds combined with low latency, mean that the connected buses can respond in real time to commands from the centralised control tower. This is a prerequisite for the safe remote control of vehicles and an important step in moving the driver from the bus into the control tower.
Keolis and Ericsson provide the technology for the connected control tower. Telia is providing 5G connectivity in collaboration with Ericsson. Intel is delivering processing power to both the IT system in the vehicles and the control tower, as well as the mobile network. The vehicle, which is equipped with self-driving technology, is provided by the Swedish technology firm T-engineering. It features seven seats and will drive at a maximum speed of 18km/h.
Commercial services run from Monday to Friday, between 8 am and 10 am and 2 pm and 4 pm, and feature a safety driver present in the vehicle at all times. The trial ends on 8 October and will be continued in Kista Science City.
In 2016, the Keolis Group launched a trial of the first autonomous vehicles in Lyon, France. Since then, it has operated autonomous vehicles in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the USA and the UK, carrying 200,000 passengers and covering over 100,000 km.