Project Stimulate: Berlin transport services test autonomous minibuses on clinic premises
The clinic of Charité in Berlin Mitte and the campus of Virchow hospital in the district of Wedding will test autonomous minibusses on their clinic premises. Starting from 2018, four self-propelled electric buses with a maximum of 20 kilometers per hour will be traveling in Mitte and Wedding. The name of the pilot project: Stimulate.
According to a report by Berlin newspaper Berliner Woche, the local transport service provider BVG put a great deal of effort into developing this project. On the clinic premises, autonomous minibuses with eleven seats and four standing places from the French manufacturers navya and Easysmile will be tested. The project costs 4.1 million euros and is funded with 3.2 million euros by the Federal Ministry of the Environment.
The 7,000 students and 160,000 employees can use the ghostbuses at the two locations by 2020. Until then, the project partners will complete various test periods. During the first tests in 2018, an engineer is on board. From 2019, the buses move autonomously on fixed routes. The buses are controlled via satellites, cameras and sensors. The software will gradually “learn” the routes, as BVG board member Henrik Haenecke says in the Berliner Woche article.
In the not so distant future, the BVG plans to use autonomous electric buses as a supplement to public transport. According to Frederic Sartou, manager at navya, 45 of his minibuses are currently in operation worldwide, for example in Switzerland, France, Japan, USA, Australia and New Zealand. In Germany, the BVG Charité project is the first test run for navya. “Germany will become the largest European market,” says Sartou.