heat hamburg, Source: © Hamburger Hochbahn AG

Autonomous driving takes further steps in Hamburg

Autonomous driving takes further steps in Hamburg

The city’s HEAT project will enter its 2nd phase of trials and might soon allow for regular passengers to climb onboard

Hamburg’s very own autonomous bus project has entered into its 2nd phase of trials. When TheMayor.EU last covered the topic in September of last year, the new initiative had just entered its first testing phase. HEAT – or Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation, was greenlit for trials back in 2019 with the vehicle being put onto the streets with the supervision of a specially designated attendant.

The 5-metre long bus operates at zero emissions and can travel with up to 25 kilometres per hour. Along with the attendant, passengers will be allowed on board towards the end of summer 2020.

Making strides in the development of autonomous vehicles

Following the success of this initial trial period, HEAT will be entering phase 2 of testing and might finally allow for passengers to climb on board.

Matthias Kratzsch, Managing Director Technology of IAV stated that "We can now start testing the revamped and improved shuttle in HafenCity again. Over the past months, we have analysed the data from the first test phase, improved key aspects of the hardware and software and prepared the shuttle for the next test. We are confident that the shuttle will cope with much longer distances compared to last year and have no problems merging with the flow of traffic with other road users. We expect to achieve clear progress in the technological development of autonomous driving." 

While the first phase of trials was focused on the gathering of data and on creating accurate assessments of location and reactions to obstacles, the 2nd phase will have a different aim – namely to test the interaction between the vehicle and the available infrastructure.

Thanks to the excellent collaboration with different developers and stakeholders, HEAT is on track for great success – but one main hurdle awaits, namely the legal framework on passenger access to the vehicle. As of right now, there is no legal precedent for allowing passengers on a vehicle that is left without an attendant which makes the predicament that the HEAT project finds itself in unpredictable and extremely challenging to solve for its developers.



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