A test van in Tampere featuring self-driving software, Source: Tampere Municipality

Tampere ready to launch first ‘robobuses’ later this year

Tampere ready to launch first ‘robobuses’ later this year

This will make it the first city in Finland, and possibly Europe, to feature self-driving vehicles in its public transport system

The City of Tampere is ready to include self-driving buses in its public transit fleet, with Finnish media reporting that this will become a fact sometime before the end of the year. For the first six months, however, there will be human controllers on board, whose job will be to oversee the operation of the vehicles.

If this becomes a reality, it will make Tampere the first Finnish (and possibly European) city to feature regular robot bus lines as part of its urban public transit network. The first lines will launch in the district of Hervanta and will serve roughly a 1-kilometre-long route connecting the south-eastern terminus of the city’s tram line with the residential area of Lintuhytti.

Tampere is looking for controllers, not drivers

Roboride, the company designer of the new vehicles, will also train the human controllers for six months, as a preliminary step before fully launching the service. Since tech autonomy in public transit is still something of uncharted territory, the city is making sure that there will be a human factor involved as the service develops to maturity.

The participants in the training program will be taught not only critical safety skills but also how to operate a traditional minibus in order to ensure uninterrupted service in the event of issues with autonomous operation.

The plan is for the controllers to eventually, as the name implies, control and monitor the operation of the vehicles remotely. At that time, it is also hoped that the commuters will have adjusted to the new robobuses and the way they work.

Earlier this year, Nysse, the city’s public transport operator, tested the autonomous vehicles for two months with satisfactory results.



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