South Germany to become a center for autonomous mobility

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KelRide, a project that will introduce an autonomous, on-demand transport service in the Kelheim district, north of Munich, officially began last week (March 29, 2021) with the handover of funding from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

The goal of the KelRide project is to further develop autonomous driving in the region by seamlessly integrating autonomous vehicles that can operate under all weather conditions into the public transport network. For the first time in Germany, it will be possible to book highly automated vehicles on-demand as a modern form of public transport.

A on-demand shared ride service will be established for the Kelheim district with electric and highly automated shuttles. It will be integrated into the local public transport system and operate on a platform using the industry-leading technology and experience of the consortium partners in the fields of autonomous vehicles, fleet management, and on-demand mobility.

The project will also focus on the development of a roadmap to enable highly autonomous vehicles to play an important role in real-world transit operations.

“Together with strong partners, we will drive the development of state-of-the-art technology for a future-oriented form of public transport in Kelheim. The knowledge we gain from KelRide serves as a possible solution for comparable mobility systems in other areas in order to ensure the regional accessibility of the population in the long term,” says Kelheim’s district administrator, Martin Neumeyer.

An EasyMile autonomous shuttle operating in Abensberg, south Germany

Kelheim supports the development of the project and its specific goals, and will play a role in the development and implementation of the project. The area needs its local public transport to be optimized. This means the creation of additional, target group-specific offers that feeds into the goal of reducing conventional, motorized individual transport.

Via, the leading provider of on-demand public transport solutions, will optimize booking, routing, assignment of passengers and vehicles, customer experience, and fleet management. In order for autonomous vehicles to reach their full potential as part of large- scale public transport networks, they must be on-demand, optimally routed, and shared by multiple passengers. Via has extensive experience using its technology platform to integrate autonomous vehicles into on-demand public transport networks around the globe.

“We are delighted to be able to work with partners and build on Via’s technology platform to realize an innovation project that is unique in Germany, and which promises to be groundbreaking for a new generation of highly flexible, autonomous public transport,” says Valerie von der Tann, Via general manager in Germany. “It is especially beneficial for municipalities in rural areas. On-demand, autonomous solutions within the framework of public transport will represent a great opportunity to radically improve access to mobility and to ensure the connection,” she adds.

Technology provider EasyMile will bring its innovative EZ10 shuttles as well as expertise in autonomous driving platforms to the project. “This project will ensure the reliability of our technology making autonomous mobility a profitable extension of public transport – a real service. We are very proud to be part of such a significant project,” says Gilbert Gagnaire, founder and CEO of EasyMile.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).