From 2018 2getthere’s autonomous ParkShuttle in the city of Capelle aan den IJssel will be transformed in the world’s first autonomous system operating on public roads without safety driver or steward. This world first, follows the first autonomous vehicle pilot (Schiphol Airport, 1997), the first urban autonomous vehicle application (Capelle aan den IJssel, 1999), the first mixed traffic demonstration with an autonomous vehicle (Delft, 2004) and the world’s first Personal Rapid Transit system (Masdar City, 2010).
4,25 million euro investment
Last November the Metropolitan region Rotterdam The Hague (MRDH) announced the extension of the current operating concession of Connexxion through 2018. The city of Capelle aan den IJssel and 2getthere, at that time already expressed their ambition to renew the system and extend the route using existing public roads. This ambition is now becoming reality with help of an investment of 4,25 million Euro on behalf of the ‘Verkeersonderneming Rotterdam’, a public-private-partnership between the city of Rotterdam, MRDH, the ministry of Infrastructure and the Port of Rotterdam.
Leading by example
Robbert Lohmann, COO 2getthere, states: ‘Rivium is the only truly autonomous system operating at grade today. With the steps now taken, it will become the first autonomous system to mix with other traffic on public roads without safety driver or steward as well. This is a major step, as we are delivering an application rather than a demonstration and are skipping the stage in which a steward is still required in every vehicle. Having over 12 years of experience with truly autonomous operations, it wouldn’t make sense to have to reintroduce a person on each vehicle like the various demonstrations now feature. The investment made now shows the ambition and leading role of the region and the city as well as the competitive edge 2getthere, has over start-up companies trying to develop concepts which they hope eventually have similar capabilities.’
Alderman Traffic and Transit Dick van Sluis of the City of Capelle aan den IJssel is also thrilled with the investment. ‘Our ambition is to transform business park Rivium into an innovative transit node. The route of the ParkShuttle system is extended to the base of the Van Brienenoordbridge where a connection to the Waterbus [a local transportation service connecting various cities in the Rotterdam area – ed.] will be realized. The investment is part of a regional investment program by the Metropolitan region and its first important step in assuming a leading role in the realization of autonomous transit.
In addition to the extension of the route within Rivium, we will also commence an electric bike sharing scheme and create a seamless transition from car, bike, waterbus, ParkShuttle and metro. Driverless transit will be an integral part of the transportation chain and not just a ‘last mile’ solution for travel between Rivium and metro station Kralingse Zoom.’
Currently the ParkShuttle carries over 2,400 passengers daily. This number will increase significantly according to Alderman Van Sluis: ‘We are exploring the possibilities to extend the route to the Erasmus University. This extension, as well as the connection to transport over water, will result in a massive increase in the amount of passengers. We are also anticipating the realization of Feyenoord City [the new stadium of the Rotterdam based soccer team – ed.], allowing spectators and visitors of events to travel from Rivium. The business park will be able to welcome many visitors who aren’t necessarily reliant on their car, which fits really well with our ambition to transform it to the Rivium Campus: a place where working, living and leisure go hand-in-hand.’
Although innovation is important, the city of Capelle aan den IJssel values availability and reliability first and foremost. This is the primary reason the cooperation with the current developer, 2getthere, is continued. ‘2getthere, is the leading developer of driverless systems. We embarked on the first project 20 years ago! We know each other well, believe in the robust and sound technology and system of 2getthere, and have built a considerable advantage in knowledge and experience. The investment of the ‘Vekeersonderneming Rotterdam’ is an important step to further increase our leading position’, according to Alderman Van Sluis.
Robbert Lohmann adds: ‘The transformation to operate autonomously on public roads aligns well with our technology roadmap and planned developments. We value the partnership with the city, which is clearly demonstrating it wants to lead by example as well. With the renewal the application at Rivium will remain host to the frequent reference visits for our technology.’
In the upcoming week Capelle aan den IJssel and 2getthere, will conclude the provisional investment with ‘de Verkeersonderneming Rotterdam’. After this step the city and 2getthere, will continue to work out the detailed agreement, with the first work commencing before the end of the year. In 2019 the new system will be operational and the transit node Rivium-Campus will be realized.
2getthere realizes Automated Transit Systems for Smart Cities. The technology is based on 25+ years of experience with automated vehicles in various demanding environments. Depending on the requirements and configuration of the application, 2getthere’s driverless vehicles can used to realize Automated People Mover Systems, Automated Transit Networks and Shared Autonomous Vehicles.