Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer and DB Board Member for Passenger Transport Bertold Huber have opened the extended route of the driverless shuttle bus to Bad Birnbach station. According to Huber, local public transport in rural areas in particular needs new concepts in order to attract more people to environmentally friendly public transport. "To this end, we want to link road and rail even more closely. Individual mobility without a car should also be possible in rural areas."
Two autonomous EasyMile EZ10 Gen2 electric buses run daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. between the market square in the town centre and Bad Birnbach railway station, thus ensuring connection to all trains. A distance of around two kilometres will be covered. An innovative traffic guidance system is used for the journey over the country road: cameras recognize the vehicle and reduce the speed for all road users to 30 km/h with the help of a digital variable traffic sign. This ensures the necessary safety and at the same time the traffic is impaired as little as possible.
The environmentally friendly electric bus has no driver, no steering wheel and no accelerator pedal. There is only one driver on board who can intervene if necessary. Thanks to an extendable ramp, the vehicle is barrier-free and now offers WLAN and USB charging ports for up to six passengers. If autonomous driving is not possible due to extreme weather conditions (heavy fog, snowfall, etc.), a minibus is available as a replacement.
At DB, the subsidiary ioki is pushing ahead with the development of autonomous driving on the road as part of public transport. The local operator of the service is the regional DB bus company Regionalbus Ostbayern. Deutsche Bahn, in close cooperation with the vehicle developer EasyMile, TÜV Süd and the market town of Bad Birnbach, has already put the first autonomous scheduled service on the road in 2017, together with the district of Rottal-Inn. Since then, more than 40,000 passengers have been transported and over 21,000 kilometres driven autonomously.