As part of the KelRide project, passengers in the Kelheim district north of Munich will now be able to book autonomous on-demand vehicles in a mixed fleet as part of the public transport system, according to KelRide's news release.
The KelRide project is entering its second phase. The goal of the project is to enable autonomous vehicles to operate in all weather conditions, according to KelRide.
Following the launch of the KEXI on-demand public transportation service last summer, the second phase allows KEXI customers to book a ride in one of the two EZ10 autonomous electric vehicles through the KEXI mobile app. KelRide said a purpose-built hub for autonomous vehicles has space for five shuttles as the fleet is set to expand in 2023 as part of the project.
The autonomous service will be offered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Donaupark, Old Town, and Pflegerspitz parking lots. The service will connect the old town of Kelheim with the Donaupark commercial area and serve a road network of almost nine miles in length. The vehicles will travel at a maximum speed of about 12 mph and have a safety operator on board who can intervene at any time with a tablet. Rides in the autonomous vehicles will be free, according to KelRide.
The KelRide project is part of new autonomous vehicle initiatives with a range of partners, including EasyMile, the district of Kelheim, Via, consultancy P3 Group, TÜV Rheinland, and the Technical University of Berlin.
Via said its software optimizes shared ride booking, routing, passenger and vehicle assignment, customer experience, and fleet management. Via's software also enables intermodal trips.
“We are delighted to build this unique and innovative project in Germany on Via’s technology platform with our partners. This project is a lighthouse for other municipalities, introducing flexible and efficient autonomous solutions as the new generation of public transport offerings,” said Jan Luedtke, Via’s DACH GM. "It is especially beneficial for municipalities in rural areas. On-demand, autonomous solutions within the framework of public transport will represent a great opportunity to radically improve access to mobility and to ensure the connection."
To operate autonomous vehicles as part of the KelRide project, Via and EasyMile have developed a technical integration of all interfaces that allows passengers to book their rides through Via's mobile app, according to the news release.
EasyMile said it is contributing its EZ10 shuttles and expertise in autonomous driving platforms to the project.
"This is another important milestone for EasyMile," said Arwed Schmidt, director strategic initiatives of passenger transportation at EasyMile. "It makes me proud to see our technology in public use, leveraging effective mobility analytics and operating in a mixed fleet approved by TÜV Rheinland. This is a clear path to large- scale deployment of safe autonomous technology in Germany and worldwide."