TALLINN - From Friday, July 15, until Sept. 14, passengers may travel free of charge in Tallinn's Mustamae district by self-driving shuttle on the inner district roads between Mustamae Road, Tammsaare Road and Ehitajate Road.
The self-driving bus with eight seats will run from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on a 1.8-kilometer circuit at approximately 25-minute intervals. The driverless bus will not run on Mondays. The shuttle route will pass the nearby apartment buildings, the bus and trolleybus stop on Tammsaare Road, the Mustamae Care Center, the former Mustamae district government building and the Maxima store at 133 Tammsaare Road.
The bus route starts from the area of the Tammsaare Road bus stop on Mustamäe Road and runs along 102 Mustamae Road, 123 A. H. Tammsaare Road and 125 Tammsaare Road, partly along the pedestrian walkway in the direction of Mustamae Care Center, and 86 and 88 Ehitajate Road, 141 and 137 A. H. Tammsaare Road back to the starting stop at Mustamae Road.
"I am very glad that the self-driving bus project will reach the streets of Mustamae. Hopefully the pilot project will be a success and will bring us a self-driving bus for a longer period of time in the near future," Lauri Laats, Mustamae city district elder, said. "Since Mustamae is a compact district, the shuttle is able to cover the habitual routes of quite a large number of people on a short route."
According to Laats, the self-driving bus project is also an appropriate celebration of the 60th anniversary year of Mustamae district. "The development of Mustamae is closely linked to the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and the Tehnopol Science Park, which makes innovative experiments particularly relevant here," Laats added.
This is a pilot project carried out in cooperation between the Tallinn Transport Department and Auve Tech, an Estonian company developing self-driving vehicles, with the aim of exploring the possibilities of using self-driving buses. There will always be a human operator on board the bus to monitor the safety of every maneuver and intervene if necessary. The self-driving bus will also be equipped with different types of sensors that will monitor the surrounding objects and their movements. If a pedestrian or any other obstacle gets in the way of the vehicle, the bus is programmed to brake automatically. The self-driving bus moves at a slow speed and does not pose a threat to other road users. The shuttle follows a pre-mapped route.