Last month, for the first time in Scandinavia, two self-driving shuttle buses started to mix with pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic along a straight 1.5kilometer public road in Kista, northern Stockholm.
Possibly no-other European nation loves technology as much as the Swedes. Stockholm has more tech startups per capita than any other city in the world apart from Silicon Valley. This pilot project will try out the technology over the next six months on normal road conditions on weekdays from 7 am to 6 pm.
The travel speed will be up to 24 km per hour, and the small ugly looking buses, taking up to 11 passengers, set a bold example for multimodal urban transport, which many predict as the model for the near-future of smart cities.
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Automation is almost everywhere in Sweden, helping to eliminate the requirement for expensive Swedish labor or cash. Ericsson’s Connected Urban Transport platform serves as the virtual bus driver for the shuttles in Stockholm, communicating with smart, sensor-enabled bus stops, traffic lights and road infrastructure.
Already by the end of the summer, in a new residential area in Barkarby northern Stockholm, self-driving buses are supposed to be part of the normal public transport route.
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For transport companies, the attractions of cutting out bus drivers and saving on those wages are obvious, not to mention the expected improvements in safety. Ericsson offers installation and operation of smart traffic solutions, minimizing installation time, operational costs and staffing headaches.
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“If this project is successful, I would say that in just a few years, this will be a very common part of Stockholm transport system,” says Kristoffer Tamsons, Stockholm’s regional transport commissioner, and chairman of Stockholm transport.
Self-Driving Buses in Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg