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Smart City Sentinel

Automated Buses Run to the Beach in Helsinki, Finland

By Ken Briodagh

Helsinki has been testing robot buses since 2016 and the pilot programs are getting quite robust now, three years on. Now, it is possible to get on a self-driving bus in smart city district Kalasatama and take a ride on a 2.5 km route to the most eastern district Vuosaari.

Helsinki is seeking to decrease traffic congestion and emissions caused by motor vehicles, the release said. The city said that it hopes self-driving robot buses will increase the popularity and efficiency of public transportation in the future.

“The aim is to use the pilots to learn as much as possible about robot buses even in the early stages of technological development, such as how residents receive them, how they function as a part of public transportation and what they can offer to the mobility of citizens,” said Jari Honkonen, Project manager at the City of Helsinki’s innovation company Forum Virium Helsinki.

“If the robot bus technology develops as expected, they can develop public transportation in a more cost-efficient direction and enhance service levels by expanding its coverage to areas where the lines do not currently reach, making departures more frequent and public transportation more reachable,” Jari Honkonen says.

Helsinki is working as an active test platform for pilots of smart traffic solutions, and the city’s strategy also aims to promote smart modes of transport. To support autonomous mobility in the Helsinki region, stakeholders are working closely together. These include Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, the Helsinki city transportation planning division, the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority and, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom which is in charge of giving out testing permissions.

This year, two robot bus lines operate on the streets of the city. In the spring of 2020, the robot bus project FABULOS will bring self-driving buses for the first time to the streets in various EU countries as a fleet, in mixed traffic in the city centre, without a steward on board and remotely operated from a control room.

“All these different pilots are part of an ongoing process in which new technologies are gradually tested in increasingly challenging environments and the lessons learned are transferred from one project to another,” said Ulla Tikkanen, Project manager, Forum Virium Helsinki.




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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