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12 € million funding for research project ABSOLUT II on automated driving

Dec 5, 2023 11:45:35 AM

The Industriepark Leipzig Nord is optimally connected to road traffic, but was inadequately integrated into public transportation. Only nine percent of the approximately 10,000 people working there in three shifts used public transport to commute to work. This particularly applied to employees who had flexibility in their working hours. Outside of shift change times, buses to the Leipzig-Messe S-Bahn station, which was five kilometers away, operated only every 30 minutes. However, increasing the frequency was deemed economically unfeasible. 

Absolut Test BusThe Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) is now supporting the continuation as ABSOLUT II. Photo: IKEM

Those who want to commute to work using public transportation need seamless coverage along the entire route. The pilot project “Absolut” by the Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe aims to fill this gap - specifically with self-driving buses. For two years, the ABSOLUT autonomous bus shuttle has been operating between Leipzig Messe and the BMW plant. A modified VW e-Crafter was built in cooperation with the TU Dresden. What sets this project apart is that, unlike numerous self-driving cars that currently operate with a driver behind the wheel, the self-driving bus by Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe aims to navigate a designated route entirely driverless. However, it will maintain an empty driver's seat.

12 million euros funding for the next research phase 

The new test phase is set to begin, backed by funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) for the ongoing ABSOLUT research and development project. This new phase will prioritize remote monitoring conducted from the control center. The earlier ABSOLUT project created and established an advanced system for public transportation that operates automatically based on demand. It was tested with volunteers to see how well it worked. Now, ABSOLUT II intends to fix a main issue: Instead of having a safety driver in the vehicle, it plans to follow the law on self-driving cars by having a supervisor in a control center oversee the vehicle remotely. This change will allow access to the vehicle from a distance.

The overall objective of the 'Absolut' project aligns with Leipzig's mobility strategy, through which we significantly strengthen sustainable mobility. The standardized provision of city data can significantly contribute to the automation of traffic in public spaces," says Thomas Dienberg, Construction Mayor of the city of Leipzig.

Interdisciplinary project team

Ten stakeholders from industry, municipality, and research are involved in this research project. In the final stage, this solution is intended to enable the supervision of multiple vehicles by a single staff member, thereby opening up significant scaling potential. The Leipzig Verkehrsbetriebe serves as the lead consortium partner, coordinating the efforts of the stakeholders. The "Absolut II" project runs until 2026.

Topics: smart city
Linh Pham

Written by Linh Pham

Linh holds a master's degree in media and communications. In the past years, she has worked as an employee and freelancer in different editorial offices. Since 2020 she is part of the SpinLab team and is now responsible for public relations.

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