Photo: Rasmus Degnbol

DTU to test self-driving buses

Tuesday 10 Apr 18

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DTU Management Engineering
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DTU Smart Campus

At DTU’s campuses, many bicycles, cars, busses, and people move about, which makes the University an ideal ‘living lab’ for new and innovative Smart City technologies.


Researchers and students are able to test prototypes and collect data in real-life settings. In addition to study and research projects, products such as autonomous vehicles and drones will also be tested.


Learn more on DTU Smart Campus.

People will need to get used to self-driving buses when the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail becomes a reality. The buses are now being tested at DTU Lyngby Campus and in Albertslund Municipality, Denmark.

In the future, passengers will be able to alight directly from the new Light Rail stations onto a self-driven bus that brings them all the way to work—or home. Able to operate with greater frequency and on stretches where it is unprofitable to operate manned buses, self-driving buses are more flexible as regards route planning.

In 2018, the buses will be tested in two selected areas—first at DTU Lyngby Campus—and then in Albertslund Municipality. The test areas are situated in one of Denmark’s largest urban development areas—Loop City—which covers the ten municipalities through which Capital Region of Denmark’s 28 kilometre Light Rail will run.

The new Light Rail will mean major urban transformation for the municipalities, and the new project will examine how the Greater Copenhagen’s physical and digital infrastructure can be redesigned to accommodate modes of driverless transport.

Most ambitious project in Europe

“The project is the first of its kind and one of the most ambitious in both Denmark and Europe. It differs from similar projects by being integrated into a real urban environment with cars and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists,” says DTU’s University Director Claus Nielsen.

“It is also the largest project of its kind involving the testing of up to four buses over a three-year period. The project will give us a leading edge within the field of collective self-driving technology and invaluable experience that will benefit everyone in the EU.”

DTU is responsible for the computerized side of the project which will be carried out in the living laboratory DTU Smart Campus—a test area for the technologies for the smart cities of tomorrow. Initially, the buses will run along Knuth-Winterfeldts Allé on both sides of Anker Engelunds Vej.

Here, researchers from DTU Management Engineering will examine—among other things—the demand for transport in real time with a view to creating dynamic scheduled bus routes adapted to user needs.

In addition to DTU, the project brings together LOOP CITY, the partner organization Gate 21, the Municipality of Gladsaxe, bus operator Nobina Technology, IBM, Roskilde University (RUC), and Albertslund Municipality. The project, which is supported by the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions programme, has a budget of EUR 4.2 million (DKK 31.4 million).

Concurrently with the new project, Autonomous Mobility will continue testing the driverless bus ‘Olli’ in a closed area at DTU where the company has set up a development office.

"The project is the first of its kind and one of the most ambitious in both Denmark and Europe. "
Claus Nielsen, University Director, DTU

Photo: Rasmus Degnbol

Intelligent transport system potential

Self-driving buses hold out great potential as a part of Denmark’s future public transport system. They can help to create better connections by linking with traffic hubs such as the new Light Rail stations—or major train and bus stations.

“Over the long term, self-driving technology will spread to private and public transport," says Professor Jeppe Rich, DTU Management.

“Self-driving buses will be able to offer a more targeted service with lower operating costs. They therefore have a role to play in the large towns and cities where they can act as feeder transport vehicles for long-distance trains and planes—not to mention easing the strain on primary collective traffic corridors. In rural areas, it’s unlikely that the buses will be able to compete with self-driving taxis and self-driving private cars.”

The partners behind the new project expect trials to get underway in the second half of 2018.

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