Director, Marketing & Communications
Neuhausen am Rheinfall, 27/03/2019 – The self-driving shuttle bus operated by Schaffhauser Verkehrsbetriebe has been running in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland, for a year. The world's first automated vehicle to be integrated in the control system of a transport operator has generated valuable experience for autonomous mobility. Furthermore, following further development to the vehicle, a model with four-wheel drive has now been delivered punctually for the first birthday of the pilot project. Four-wheel drive is an important prerequisite for extending the route to the Rhine Falls.
It was exactly one year ago that the self-driving vehicle celebrated its first official journey on Route 12 in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland. At the same time, this was also a world premiere: with the "Route 12" project, the Trapeze subsidiary AMoTech successfully integrated the world's first automated vehicle in the regular operations of a transport operator – Verkehrsbetriebe Schaffhausen (VBSH). Integration in the Trapeze control system brings crucial advantages for both passengers and dispatchers. Passenger information is fully available on all available channels, such as stop DPI signs, on the internet and on smartphones. Moreover the dispatcher in the control centre is kept informed about all the data of the self-driving shuttle bus, in the interests of seamless location tracking. The project was instigated by the Swiss Transit Lab, an initiative launched by the partners Canton of Schaffhausen, AMoTech, Trapeze and VBSH.
Route 12 in Neuhausen am Rheinfall has had a great effect since it started operating, and the self-driving vehicle has become widely known in next-to-no time. People from all over the world have been drawn to the town at the Rhine Falls to see autonomous mobility for themselves at close quarters, including politicians and also large international television stations. Passenger numbers also reflect the huge attraction of the vehicle. Since 27 March 2018, more than 24,000 passengers have used the service, corresponding to a monthly average of roughly 2,000 passengers. The daily record was achieved in August 2018 with 507 passengers.
The decision to continue periodic operation during the winter months was important in terms of finding out how the vehicle would cope with more difficult road conditions such as snow or heavy rain. A big step toward the future of mobility was possible thanks to the findings obtained in just a short period of time.
At the moment, the automated vehicle serves three stops in Neuhausen town centre. But now the new 4x4 model with two motors has arrived so that preparations can now begin to extend the route down to the Rhine Falls.
Once all official permits have been obtained, the new section of the route will be measured and the vehicle will be tested there. The extension to the route includes four additional stops; the vehicle will also have to cope with a gradient of 15%.
This is an important milestone for Trapeze, AMoTech and all the Swiss Transit Lab stakeholders. It is also a challenge, and one that offers the chance of additional valuable findings about autonomous mobility in urban public transport.