Premiere for self-driving buses in Gothenburg
Finally. I’ve written exclusively on this blog about Sweden’s need to finally implement the self-driving concept in its transportation system – now I can say that my nagging has achieved a tangible result – a result that is starting slow but will eventually generate waves around the country. Today, on a Thursday it was the grand premiere in the Western Swedish city of Gothenburg. More specifically, it was in the Chalmers area, an area known for its science-driven university, that a bus started driving a “test trip” that will last for four weeks.
No formal driver is involved in the actual journey but there is, notably, a person that monitors and manages the safety – well, that is work in itself. The bus is rather small, manufactured in France by Navya, with seating for ten seated passengers, as well as a place for those who “drive”. But there’s no steering wheel, just a handset coming from a video game. And it’s an advantage to sit, the brakes can be just as fast. It’s rather easy to brake when the bus weighs up at around 2,400 kilograms.
Sometimes the bus turns off with a bell that does not sound like any other signal in Gothenburg. It is apparent that these are new technologies in many ways. But most of the advanced technology is well hidden, and as a passenger you do not see much of it. But it’s there, it’s for sure.
The maximum velocity of the bus in Gothenburg is at 20km/h and the route takes it from the university’s main entrance, through Johanneberg science park and then taking a stop at the university library – but the automation itself takes place on actual roads, so there’s no need to see this as a buzzkill when considering the grandiose symbol of what this entails for Gothenburg, Sweden and the world as a whole.
Worse start in Stockholm
“It’s a self-propelled public transport bus in central Gothenburg,” says Birger Löfgren, project manager RISE Viktoria. “And that’s great, because it’s only in this way that we have a chance to get an idea of what potential this technology has and what constraints it has. We want to get good conditions for sustainable urban development very simply.”
A worse start was given to the corresponding bus in Kista this winter, where they tried a self-propelled bus for the first time in Sweden, but then there was snow and ice on the road – that was inconvenient. There the supervisor got to push a little and help with the manual drive, but in Gothenburg on the spring edge, it did not seem necessary.
The bus is here to stay
Most people hear a lot about self-propelled cars that come more and more, but this type of bus already exists in France, the United States, Switzerland and Australia. A technique that seems to be here to stay. It opens up a significant amount of possibilities elsewhere in the world and as I predicted, really had a smooth transition to its implementation in Gothenburg. It’s really quite a shame, though, that Stockholm is lagging behind and for that reason they would have step up to the plate – the friendly rivalry between Gothenburg and Stockholm has swayed to the former in this question; can Stockholm reply? Send in the green buses!
Daniel Vice: Evolvera – always changing, always evolving