Original article in Polish by Joanna Bieganowska, Urząd Miejski w Gdańsku
An autonomous minibus route is being built in Gdańsk, where the passengers will be transported free of charge along the main avenue in the Łostowice Cemetery, informs the city council. The pilot is part of Sohjoa Last Mile project and it will provide information whether such a solution would reduce passenger car traffic in the area.
Łostowicki Cemetery was chosen for this pilot based on the passenger feedback collected from previous robotbus pilot in Gdańsk driven in September 2019 by the Sohjoa Baltic project. The so called last-mile services are known to benefit accessibility of people with mobility limitations in large closed areas, such as university campuses, airports and hospitals.
Transnational collaboration: Finnish operator, Estonian vehicle
Sohjoa Last Mile project in Gdańsk organized a public procurement tender and the offer of the Finnish company Roboride was accepted. The vehicle is by Estonian company Auve Tech.
“The offer amounts to PLN 541,200.00. The cost of the service, including VAT, will be PLN 665,676.00, and 85 percent of the amount spent will be returned to the city as a refund from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region program”, the Gdańsk city council explains the costs of such a pilot.
The bus has arrived to Gdańsk in September and its route is programmed for driving. No exact pilot start date has yet been confirmed.
Driving without a driver
For the first week the robotbus is operated in the automated mode, so there is a human operator in the vehicle to take over if necessary. The bus will then be tested to run autonomously. The operator will remain outside the vehicle, supervising it remotely. Local bus drivers will be trained to act as operators.
Not for the first time
It will be the second pilot of an autonomous bus in Gdańsk. In September 2019, the city of Gdańsk, as part of the Sohjoa Baltic project, launched the first autonomous bus line in Poland, which for a month transported passengers along Karwienska Street on the route leading to the Gdańsk Zoological Garden. The currently planned pilot will be more technically advanced as the remote control mode of the vehicle will be tested. Therefore, a closed area was chosen as the place of the presentation, and not a public road as before.
The project runs from October 2020 to March 2022. As part of the project, three pilots of automated, electric minibuses are planned in the Norwegian Kongsberg, Tallinn and Gdańsk. The aim is to test the automated mode without a driver in the vehicle and the remote control mode. The pilots take place both in closed and open areas and help build competences for future remote fleet management.
The Sohjoa Last Mile project is coordinated by the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Seven partners participate in the work, i.e. local governments, public transport operators, universities and industry organizations from Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Poland. The total co-financing of the project from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region program is 898,203.00 €.