The new autonomous minibus for HEAT (Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation) has been revealed.
The minibus is the result of a German research and development project to integrate an autonomous shuttle bus into regular street traffic.
Five meters long, weighing just under three tons, powered emission-free with electricity: The minibus intends to provide space for up to ten passengers travelling through Hamburg’s HafenCity as of mid-2020.
The youngest member of the HOCHBAHN fleet will drive autonomously and completely emission-free. In order to safely find its way along the test route, the minibus will communicate continuously with sensors installed along the route and with the central HOCHBAHN control centre. The minibus will begin test operations this August.
The HEAT research and development team said that the goal of project is to enter uncharted territory in order to prove that self-driving minibuses can be fully and safely integrated into street traffic as well as a city’s public transport system.
The HEAT minibus is to be tested under real conditions in public streets and should, as planned, be capable of autonomous driving at speeds up to 50 km/h.
Michael Westhagemann Hamburg’s Senator for Economics Transport and Innovation said, ‘Public acceptance is critically important for the future use of autonomous vehicles. Both with a first test route available to all manufacturers for networked and automated driving in the heart of our city as with the HEAT project, we make a clear announcement that we try out new mobility offerings in Hamburg and provide industry and researchers optimal conditions for doing just that.’
‘At the ITS World Congress in 2021, we will use HEAT and many other projects to demonstrate that Hamburg is a pioneer in innovative mobility solutions,’ added Westhagemann.
The minibus developed by IAV has been approved for transporting ten passengers and has two benches with four seats each and a foldable bench with two more seats. In addition, the minibus is equipped with an access ramp that enables barrier-free operation. The batteries for the vehicle’s electric drive are charged at Vattenfall in HafenCity.