35 driverless, electric, minibuses are "on the road" in nine countries
Autonomous public transport has implications for health and social care, environment, rubbish and recycling, work & employment, crime & anti-social behaviour, local and wider public transport networks, entertainment and the night economy.
In October 2015 NAVYA, a French company, launched the Arma a 100% autonomous, driverless, electric minibus capable of carrying 15 passengers at speeds up to 45 kilometres per hour. Eighteen months later the Arma is operating on private sites and on public roads in nine different countries. The vehicle is equipped with numerous sensors and an on-board computing system that enables it to interact with its surroundings. It is also designed to provide efficient mobility solutions in terms of size, load carrying and energy use.
The Arma is already in use as a shuttle at Christchurch Airport in New Zealand and has been on trial at Heathrow. In January 2017, the Arma was launched in Las Vegas providing a shuttle service to and from the city's Innovation District. The first completely autonomous, fully electric shuttle-bus ever to be deployed on a public roadway in the United States.
On 9 December 2016 the NAVYA Arma was launched at Mcity, a city scape testing site managed by University of Michigan. Mcity is a 10 million dollar project that sits on a four square kilometre site at the University of Michigan's North Campus. The facility has a network of streets and roads, building facades, bridges, reduced speed zones and even dual carriageways, specifically designed for testing connected, automated and autonomous cars.
In February this year the driverless mini-bus was passed fit for an extended trial in Salzburg. The trial required special permission from the Austrian Ministry of Transport. Salzburg’s councillor for transport Hans Mayr said that the autonomous minibus is not intended to replace suburban trains or the regular bus service but will be a supplementary mode of transport to help people get from the bus or train stop to their homes or to their destination.
The Arma aims to provide a complement to current public transport systems over distances that are too short to go by car or are too long to go on foot. "It's about the first and the last mile, which is often the reason why people still travel by car and don’t switch to public transport" said Councillor Mayr
People use their cars becuase they don't want to walk to the station or wait at the bus stop particularly in winter. Becuase the driverless bus reduces the cost of providing a service, timetables can feature more frequent services says Mayr. However the real promise of the autonomouse public vehicle shuttle is as an on-demand door to station/station to door service, a sort of shared taxi with up to fifteen passengers, where vehicles that are not operating to a fixed schedule can call at the passengers home having been booked online, collecting and droping other passengers en-route and so reducing the cost to the passenger.
The NAVYA Arma currently costs €250,000. But the price will drop with increased production and the savings in operating costs would seem to make a clear case for investing
we will be talking about the implications of autonomous public transport for
health & social care, environment, rubbish and recycling, patterns of work & the future of employment, prevention of crime & anti-social behaviour, commerce, local & wider public transport networks, mental health, entertainment and the night economy
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