The trials will test the practicalities of driverless public transport in real traffic conditions. Picture: SUPPLIED
The trials will test the practicalities of driverless public transport in real traffic conditions. Picture: SUPPLIED

Swedish truck maker Scania will collaborate with Nobina, the largest public transport operator in the Nordic countries, to commence trials of autonomous buses on regular routes in the Stockholm area.

“The technology is now sufficiently mature to initiate trials in actual bus operations on public roads, making the project one of the first of its kind in Europe with buses this size,” says Karin Rådström, Head of Buses and Coaches, Scania.

“The project will provide a wealth of information in the further development of large autonomous buses before a full-scale introduction.”

The trials of self-driving buses will be conducted in two stages, initially without passengers before welcoming commuters onboard. Safety being a top priority throughout the trials, the buses will have a safety-driver onboard to monitor operations and assist passengers.

“We at Nobina are highly engaged in establishing what we believe will be an important part of future public transport,” says Henrik Dagnäs, MD, Nobina Sweden. “These trials will provide a great deal of insight and experience going forward concerning the practical everyday aspects of managing and operating autonomous buses and enabling more people to travel by public transport. The demands on autonomous buses will not differ from those in other operations, including reliability, safety and availability.”

The two Scania Citywide LF electric buses will connect the rapidly expanding new residential area of Barkarby, about 20km from downtown Stockholm, with a nearby metro station. The buses will be in service along a new dedicated 5km route with four stops.

Initially, about  1km is planned to be driven autonomously. During the second phase of the trials, it is expected that about 300 passengers will make daily use of this service.

The 12m long buses have the capacity to carry 80 passengers, of which 25 are seated.

Traffic and control systems for the autonomous buses will be jointly managed by Scania and Nobina.

The development project has already started and the trial period is planned to begin in 2020. Throughout the trials, data will be collected on, for example, average speeds, uptime, on-time performance, deviation response and passenger satisfaction.

Several innovative public transport projects are already under way in Barkarby which has been described as the world’s most modern city traffic system.