The first phase of the Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation research and development project has ended successfully, a press release said Monday (September 9, 2019). Test runs of the autonomous minibus began in August along a fixed route in HafenCity without passengers, but with a vehicle attendant. Emphasis was on the accuracy of the vehicle’s localisation, its reaction to obstacles and the infrastructure’s performance when operated continuously. A second test phase is scheduled for spring 2020 and the first passengers will likely be on board in mid 2020. Operators are hoping to have the vehicle fully autonomous in time for the ITS World Congress, which Hamburg is hosting in 2021.
Flagship project with national appeal
Natalie Rodriguez, Project Manager at Hochbahn, said: “The test runs in daily traffic with cyclists and other cars and up to second row parkers were challenging, but exactly the right step. The enormous, national interest in HEAT shows that pioneering work is being done in Hamburg.” Henning Schubärth, Project Manager at the Ministry of Economics, Transport and Innovation, remarked: “The fact that this first test phase in public road traffic has gone well and almost unnoticed has motivated us to continue on this path step by step.”
Developing vehicle, sensors and infrastructure
The recorded data will be evaluated in the coming months. The vehicle, sensors and infrastructure will be developed based on the data and the hardware and software will be upgraded in preparation for the second test phase. The Hamburg Verkehrsanlagen and Siemens intend to expand the infrastructure along the extended section of the route. Hopes of a permit for automated driving without a vehicle attendant when the ITS World Congress gets underway from October 11-21, 2021 in Hamburg are high.