Autonomous Vehicles and Public Transport in Europe
To discuss the potential, opportunities, and challenges, Global Mass Transit is organising virtual edition of its fourth annual conference on Autonomous Vehicles and Public Transport in Europe on November 16 – 17 2022.
Deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) has received a major boost in Europe. Over the past year, key policies have been announced, pilot projects have been successfully completed, full-sized driverless buses have been introduced and many public transport authorities and operators have unveiled plans to introduce AVs in public transit in urban, suburban and rural areas.
In March and April 2022, the European Commission published two draft regulations for more widespread deployment of fully automated vehicles. This came in right after many European countries amended regulations in 2021 to create an environment of acceptance for AVs. These developments are expected to positively impact the use of AVs in public transport as buses, shuttles and as vehicles for first- and last-mile connectivity.
Several important projects recorded significant developments. A successful autonomous driving pilot was completed in March 2022 in Finland under the SHOW project despite highly challenging winter conditions. The TERMINAL project saw the completion of the practical test phase with the automated cross-border shuttle for commuters between France and Germany. From September 2021, a driverless shuttle began providing an on-demand service without an operator on board inside Kongsberg Technology Park within the framework of the Sohjoa Last Mile project in Norway. The UK’s first full-sized driverless buses began trials in Scotland in April 2022 as part of the CAVForth project.
The integration of AVs in public transport and scaling up existing pilots are not without challenges. Public transport agencies face difficulties in their efforts to achieve complete integration and there remain concerns about the interaction of AVs with non-AVs on roads. Safety concerns regarding ownership and accountability in unprecedented situations, general public apprehension and regulatory concerns persist. There are also issues regarding data and cybersecurity.
Despite the challenges, AVs present public transport agencies with the opportunity to become a digital integrator, reap the benefits that data present, implement Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), strengthen first- and last-mile connectivity through shared robotaxis and minibuses, develop new business models, reimagine parking spaces and urban design, ensure sustainable mobility and create a balanced and integrated multimodal transport solution.
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