In Roding in the Upper Palatinate, or more precisely in Neubäu am See, the AVL “AutBus” is starting its trial run with immediate effect. In the future, the electrified VW T6 will take its passengers from A to B automatically. The automated minibus was developed in close cooperation with the East Bavarian Technical University Amberg-Weiden and funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. It is still being tested without passengers, and a safety driver is also on board to monitor traffic and the behavior of the “AutBus” during operation. However, the electrified, autonomous minibus is to be further developed after the successful trial phase and gradually transferred to regular operation. It will then take its passengers to their destinations on the route between Neubäuer train station and the lakeside promenade. It will travel a total of five stops over a distance of 1.3 kilometers and is intended to provide a sustainable supplement to the public transport system and individual transportation in rural areas.
With a speed of up to 60 km/h, the AVL “AutBus” blends into the road traffic. The electrified VW T6 behaves like a manned vehicle, but thanks to precise sensor technology and autonomous driving functions, it can independently avoid obstacles and start, turn or stop in all directions. The steering wheel and pedals are controlled electronically, with the help of a drive-by-wire system from SchaefflerByWire. Safe operation is ensured by lidar and radar-based sensors on the vehicle roof as well as additional radar installations in the body, which allow a 360° all-round view. In this way, the “AutBus” can optimally capture its surroundings. As development partners, the experts at the East Bavarian Technical University of Amberg-Weiden supplied the necessary infrastructure sensor technology. Data from the roadside units, i.e., additional sensors installed along a road or pedestrian walkway that illuminate critical traffic points, are also used to perceive the current traffic situation and for orientation.
Following the successful trial operation, there are also plans to expand the route network and operate a small fleet of around three to ten vehicles. In addition, there will be an on-demand call-bus function via app. The expansion of the “AutBus” concept to logistics applications is also conceivable.