Ordinary, autonomous service
Wow, it feels like riding on tracks, Dylan Irons exclaims spontaneously when riding the autonomous shuttle we operate in Stavanger. Dyland and his friend Kristian Henjesand opted for the self-driving shuttle to take them home to Stavanger East.
The bus has become a well-known feature of the cityscape. For almost a year and a half, it has faithfully transported regular travelers and curious passengers. Elin Kleppa says it is a sought after service for residents in the area around Badedammen.
– It is very good. It saves us from walking from Badedammen to the city centre, especially on cold, windy and rainy days, she says, and adds: I have only heard positive things about the bus from other residents.
– Most people think that it is completely normal with a bus that runs by itself, says John Dubland. He and the team of operators from Boreal Norge AS make sure that everything works according to schedule and that the passengers feel safe.
– I do not think young people consider this anything special at all, says Dubland.
They usually spot the joystick onboard and get interested in understanding how this actually works, he adds. And quite rightly, it is precisely the Xbox controller Irons and Henjesand notice on their drive. The joystick is used if an operator needs to take manual control of the vehicle to bypass incorrectly parked cars or other obstacles in the roadway that the self-driving technology will not pass.
For other traffic such as cars, cyclists, pedestrians, birds in the roadway or other ordinary as well as unexpected conditions in the roadway, the bus is programmed to be safe and stop when needed. All the operators can, after a year and a half of service, confirm that no dangerous or undesirable incidents have occurred in connection with operation.
“There has never been a situation that has affected the safety of either passengers or other road users,” says operator, Ragnhild Berg.
Unsolicited, Kristian Henjesand confirms the operators’ experience.
“I cannot think of anyone our age who would consider safety as a reason not to ride this bus. Nobody I know would say that. Or even think it, he says.
Route 17 is an ordinary service from public transport operator Kolumbus. The bus has run steadily every Monday to Friday through the pandemic, winter and spring. Kolumbus confirms that the bus delivers an important public transport service to residents in the area around Badedammen in Stavanger East, and that the project contributes to Norway being among the foremost in the world when it comes to self-driving technology.
– Route 17 helps make self-driving more accessible, says Karina Lavik, business developer at Mobility Forus. – People get used to seeing a self-driving bus enroute. It lowers the threshold for trying it out and is an important element to knowledge sharing and a permanent legislation, Lavik adds.
The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications. Norway approved a temporary legislation for self-driving technology in 2017. Data and insights from the operation in Stavanger is shared with the authorities to establish a standardized legislation for autonomous vehicles.
– The authorities’ willingness to lead the way for self-driving technology is very important for achieving overall goals of getting more people to choose public transport,” says Linn Terese Lohne Marken, general manager of Mobility Forus.
– These type of long-term projects contribute to Norway’s goal of restructuring the transport sector to emission-free and autonomized public transport services,” she adds.
Route 17 is open to the public and will be in operation until October 2022. Feel free to take a ride or contact us if you want to learn more