Estonian self-driving bus project introduced in Greece

  • 2020-11-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The self-driving bus Iseauto, created in Estonia and offering a comprehensive service, which last summer served passengers in Tallinn's Ulemiste City, has started working in the Greek city of Lamia.

As part of a pilot project of autonomous public transport led by Estonians, a self-driving street-approved vehicle will be operating in Greece for the first time in history.

The self-driving minibus manufactured by Auve Tech in Estonia is the first self-driving fourth category vehicle in Greece that has been declared street legal. In many ways, the Greeks learned from the practice of the Estonian Road Administration when issuing the permit, which is why, in addition to technology, the Estonians have also helped to contribute to the development of public transport service legislation based on self-driving buses.

Estonian Ambassador to Greece Priit Pallum welcomed the future-oriented cooperation between Estonia and Greece upon the launch of the Iseauto in Lamia. “Welcome to the future! Estonian companies are testing technology and service here in Lamia today, which will be the normality in 10 years," Pallum said.

Buses in Lamia will be tested in a number of different ways during the test period. Buses need to adapt to normal traffic, take into account drivers and pedestrians, but also maintain constant communication with the control center and smart bus stops. At the same time, the safety of pedestrians and light road users is the highest priority in the vicinity of the Iseauto. To ensure safer traffic, the bus is accompanied during the test period by an expert who knows the vehicle and the vehicle speed is limited to 25 kilometers per hour.

Lamia Mayor Thymios Karaiskos said at the opening ceremony that the experience gained from such testing provides an opportunity to become acquainted with new technologies, and it is important that research and development create more accessible services that improve the daily lives of all citizens without exception. "It is important for our country to adapt quickly to robotics and digital technologies so that we do not lag behind the new technological revolution taking place in the world," the mayor said.

According to Tanel Talve, a representative of Modern Mobility, the leading partner of the Fabolus project, the aim of the pilot project is to prepare not only innovative Tallinn but also other cities for the introduction of future technologies. The Ulemiste and Lamia pilot projects are a kind of a preparation for self-driving vehicles to one day be able to play their role in our daily transport system. The small, green and quiet last-mile public transport solution is suitable for extending bus routes on small streets, residential areas and city centers, where it is not reasonable in terms of cost or size to run regular buses. The aim of the experiments is to gain real-life experience in order to further develop buses into a natural part of public transport.

Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) is responsible for the development and testing of the scientific side of the project and innovative solutions, with whom the first prototype of the Iseauto was completed a few years ago. Today, the TalTech autonomous vehicle research group, led by Raivo Sell, has become well-known around the world for its unique results, rapid development process and successful cooperation with private companies.

Although the Greek project is largely based on the experience of Ulemiste City, the operating environment is different this time. In order to take advantage of Lamia's sun and the energy coming from it, solar panels were installed on the roofs of the buses in cooperation with the Solaride team. The panels act as an additional source of energy for buses and provide test results for the educational student project Solaride, which plans to travel across Australia next year using only solar energy.

The Fabolus project is funded by the European Union and coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki. The pilots in Tallinn and Lamia are conducted by the Mobile Civitatem Consortium, which includes Modern Mobility, TalTech, Auve Tech and Fleet Complete, and Bercman Technologies as a cooperation partner.