(MENAFN – Swissinfo)
When the Belle-Idée project is fully up and running, three shuttle buses will offer a 24-hour door-to-door service on demand on the Geneva hospital website. swissinfo.ch
Over the past five years, various types of autonomous vehicles, including buses, have sprung up on Swiss roads. But even as testing continues, the driverless future may still be years away.
This content is published on 24 September 2020 – 11:00 24 September 2020 – 11:00 Simon Bradley
Born in London, Simon is a multimedia journalist who has worked for www.swissinfo.ch since 2006.He speaks French, German and Spanish and covers the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, and various issues especially in French-speaking. Switzerland.
More on the author | British Department
On a sunny autumn morning in rural Geneva, a bright orange and white trolleybus winds its way through the leafy 36-acre courtyard on the site of the Belle-Idée hospital.
The bus was walking along the gravel road when suddenly a patient and a nurse came out from behind a tree. The vehicle brakes sharply, the bell rings, the ‘maintain distance’ sign flashes front and rear. The couple backed off, and the bus continued slowly.
Toy-like shuttles – empty regardless of operator safety and guided by sensors, GPS and radar – are at the heart of a unique driverless public transport experiment.
“This is a world first for a public transport service,” said Dimitri Konstantas, director of the Institute for Information Science at the University of Geneva, which helped coordinate the project. ‘Most sites and trails have fixed routes… but here the difference is there is no route. You can go anywhere. ‘
External Content Testing, testing
This summer, a small team began testing a ten-seater vehicle, mapping out the huge Belle-Idée park and its obstacles. In parallel, Geneva-based start-up MobileThinking has put the finishing touches to an app that first passengers will try out before the end of the year.
Then when the project is up and running in the next few years, patients, visitors and staff will be able to tour the vast complex using their smartphones to book one of the three buses offering 24-hour doors on demand. – door service.
The user will be able to find the bus via the app, then send a pick up request. The software will show you when the bus is available and at what travel time. The fleet management system will then adjust the vehicle route according to the demands of other passengers.
The idea is to have a fully automated system with safety operators at a central depot monitoring the vehicles, said Jeroen Beukers, an autonomous vehicle expert running the project for the Geneva public transport authority (TPG).
Next week we are installing electric doors at the bus depot. In the future, you will place an order on your mobile, the depot door will open automatically, the bus that is charged will pick you up from A and take you to B and then return to the depot or continue to pick up someone else, ‘he said.
One of the ten-seater driverless buses passes through the site of a 36-hectare hospital, east of Geneva’s city center. swissinfo.ch
The project is not Geneva’s first driverless bus trial: TPG has successfully run automatic shuttles on fixed circular routes at Meyrin since 2018.
The Belle-Idée project was chosen as part of a four-year European driverless vehicle initiative known as AVENUE (Autonomous Vehicles to Evolve into New Urban Experiences). The European Consortium, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, includes pilot schemes in Lyon (France), Luxembourg and Copenhagen (Denmark).
Driverless vehicles in Switzerland
Switzerland has tested several types of driverless vehicles on the road over the past five years. Autonomous passenger cars were tested in Zurich in 2015, followed by delivery robots in Bern a year later. This test has now been completed.
In Sion, the canton of Valais, trials using autonomous Swiss Post buses in the city center began in the summer of 2016 and were later adapted and extended. However, the project has been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Swiss Post is planning a follow-up project between Sion and Uvrier village.
Regional public transport companies are also testing autonomous transport in Marly (canton of Friborg), in Bern, and in Meyrin and Thônex (cantons of Geneva). Similar trials were carried out at Neuhausen am Rheinfall (2018-2019) near Schaffhausen, and in Zug (2018-2019).
End of insertion
Over the past five years, an increasing number of cities and transport companies in Switzerland are experimenting with driverless vehicles on fixed routes (see info box). These include Sion, the capital of the Canton of Valais, which in 2016 became the first Swiss city to launch an autonomous bus service in collaboration with the Swiss Post.
Apart from freaky minor accidents, the results of these trials have been generally positive, with thousands of passengers now regularly taking driverless shuttles.
The trials have allowed Switzerland to ‘position itself as a pioneer’ in this area, according to Marina Kaempf, a spokeswoman for the Federal Roads Office.
In most cases, the tests are well received by the public, with cities and cantons developing ‘realistic’ projects to demonstrate what vehicles can do, he said swissinfo.ch.
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