Dr. Alexander Hars, of German software company Inventivio GmbH, has reported in his blog Driverless car market watch that on the a webinar update on 4 September given by the CityMobil2 project at the end of two month trial of a driverless bus service, hat reported ‘mixed results’ in a real life road tests.
Two autonomous electric buses supplied by French company Robosoft carried passengers on a 1.3km pedestrian stretch next to a beach near Oristano in southern Italy. The small-scale demonstration operated for 38 days and transported 1600 persons in 3000 trips.
CityMobil2 - or Cities demonstrating cybernetic mobility - is a €15.8 million budgeted project co-funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme. The project started in September 2012 and is to run for 4 years and has 45 partners drawn from system suppliers, city authorities (and local partners), the research community and networking organisations.
The project will test demonstrators in five cities. It is coordinated by Universita Degli Studi Di Roma La Sapienza, and has the universities of Leeds and Southampton as UK partners.
Testing at reduced speed - problems with GPS reception and faulty sensors
Dr. Hars - an attendee the InnovateUK Driverless Cars Challenge Competition Briefing on 30 July as well as the Transport Systems Catapult/BIS/DfT Workshop on driverless cars in February - reports in the blog post EU wraps up first autonomous bus demonstration in Italy with mixed results that that due proximity with pedestrians, the bus’s maximum speed was reduced from the planned 15 to 20km/h to 12km/h - although in the video above it seemed to progress much lower than that.
The autonomous operation was also limited, he states, because of problems with GPS reception.
Before the demonstrator started, trees had been cut back to help GPS reception but in a live demonstration for the webinar GPS reception was spotty and the driver had to manually override the vehicle.
Another critical problem was found to negatively affect the project was that sensors started to report non-existing obstacles, causing the bus to stop. No explanation was found for this but it also required a manual override.
LUTZ Pathfinder project to test with variable speeds of up to 24km/h
Testing for the Milton Keynes based LUTZ Pathfinder project, to be carried out on pavements rather than roads, was originally announced as to be conducted at no more than a fast walking pace, due to safety concerns.
However, at Transport Systems Catapult’s June Imagine Festival in June, the manufacturing contractor RDM stated that it is looking at using variable speeds of up to 24 kilometres an hour, depending upon the amount of available space and number of pedestrians in the vicinity.