Autonomous HEAT minibus returns to HafenCity after winter break

Tests of shuttle along entire route - passenger services to be resumed in late summer
04 May 2021

The Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation (HEAT) minibus has returned to Hamburg's HafenCity after a three-month break, a press release said Monday (May 3, 2021). The bus will now travel along the entire approximately 1.8-kilometre test route in preparation for passenger services in late summer. The research and development project will be presented at the ITS World Congress in October as part of the city's Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) strategy.

Pioneering project in autonomous public transport.

The project is already a great success, according to Henrik Falk, CEO of Hamburger Hochbahn. "For the first time, an autonomous shuttle is on the road under real traffic conditions in the middle of a German city - and can be experienced by a broad mass of people. Precisely such real-life tests give the research field the boost it needs," he added. During a  month of passenger operations in 2020, Hochbahn welcomed almost 600 passengers aboard the minibus despite pandemic-induced restrictions.

More upgrades for e-shuttle 

The minibus, which travels at speeds of up to 25 km/h, has been upgraded to prepare for the next test phase. Matthias Kratzsch, CEO of Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr (IAV), which developed the vehicle, noted: "As a result, the shuttle is now ideally equipped to independently change lanes, turn left and cross intersections on the extended, multi-lane test route." The bus can travel along a defined route using built-in cameras and by communicating with sensors in the area. Passenger operations on the entire test route in late summer is the last milestone before the ITS Congress, which Hamburg is hosting this year.