An autonomous bus named “Iseauto” has started its work in Greece, in the city of Lamia. The bus has been developed in Estonia and offers a full-scale autonomous service that was first piloted in the summer in Tallinn, in Ülemiste City.
For the first time in Greek history, a fully street-legal autonomous vehicle is operational in the context of an autonomous public transport pilot project led by Estonians.
The autonomous minibus developed by AuveTech in Estonia is the first “4th category” – or Level 4 – autonomous vehicle that has been pigeonholed “street-legal” in Greece.
The Greek authorities followed to a considerable extent the best practice of Estonian National Road Administration: we can say that besides technology transfer the Estonian experience has been used to develop the relevant legislation concerning autonomous buses offering public transport in Greece.
The Estonian ambassador to Greece, Priit Pallum, expressed his delight in the future-oriented cooperation between Estonia and Greece while sending Iseauto to its route.
“Welcome to the future! The Estonian enterprises are today testing here in Lamia technology and service that will be normality in ten years,” said Pallum.
The autonomous vehicles will be tested in Lamia under various circumstances. The buses have to cope with the traditional traffic, take into consideration drivers and pedestrians, keep constant contact with the operating room, and smart bus-stops.
The top priority for Iseauto is the safety of pedestrians and light travelers. During the test period, an expert fully aware of the characteristics of the bus accompanies each ride. Also, the speed is limited to 25 km/h.
The mayor of Lamia, Thymios Karaiskos, said at the opening ceremony that the experience acquired during such pilots enables us to acquaint with new technologies and that is very important that research and development activities help to create more accessible services that improve the daily living of each citizen.
“Adaptation to robotics and digital technologies is important for our country not to miss the new technological revolution taking place globally,” said Karaiskos.
A representative of the Fabulos lead partner Modern Mobility Mr. Tanel Talve said that the aim of the pilot project is to prepare besides innovative Tallinn also other cities to deliver future technologies.
The pilots in Ülemiste and Lamia are preparation for autonomous vehicles to take a role in our daily public transport system in the future.
Small, green, and silent last-mile public transport solutions suit to prolong bus-lines in small streets, residential areas, and also in city centers where regular buses are not feasible in terms of costs or size.
The pilots are aimed to obtain real-life experience to integrate the autonomous buses into the public transport system.
Smart public transport systems include autonomous buses, also smart bus-stops, and software platforms that enable all partners in the system to communicate with each other and with traditional public transport in the future.
The smart bus-stops developed by Modern Mobility and connected to the public transport platform allow the passengers to request a ride or notify about their special needs (wheel-chair, pram, etc) using a screen in the bus-stop or an app.
The buses can thus avoid empty rides out of rush-hours but ensure them being ready for the passengers. Implementing new technologies helps to change public transport more user-friendly and smoother, encourages to abandon one’s personal car and makes public space greener.
The scientific work of the pilot, developing innovative solutions, and testing them is the responsibility of TalTech that also partnered in working out the first Iseauto prototype a couple of years ago.
The TalTech autonomous vehicles research team led by Raivo Sell has acquired global recognition in the field due to its unique results, fast development process, and successful cooperation with enterprises.
Although much of the Greek project is based on the experience obtained in Ülemiste City, the operational environment is different. Solar panels were installed on the bus roofs together with the Solaride team to use the sun and its energy in Lamia.
The panels act as additional power sources to the buses and help the students of the educational student project Solaride to obtain relevant information about solar energy.
The Solaride team are planning to travel across Australia in the next year using only solar energy as a power source.
The Fabulos project is financed by the European Union and coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki. The Tallinn and Lamia pilots are carried out by Mobile Civitatem consortium, consisting of Modern Mobility, TalTech, Auve Tech, and Fleet Complete with Bercman Technologies acting as a cooperation partner.