Zemgale The planning region together with partners from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Estonia and Poland has concluded the project “Sohjoa Baltic” or “Baltic Sea Region Cooperation for the Transition to Environmentally Friendly Autonomous (Driverless) First / Last Mile Public Transport”, during which Zemgale there was an unmanned bus.
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The aim of the project was to improve environmentally friendly transport systems in urban areas by using the diversity of urban transport and serving a larger number of inhabitants. With the activities of the project “Sohjoa Baltic” in Latvia, a wide step was taken in the use of unmanned transport, researching, popularizing and practically testing the possibilities of using autonomous unmanned electric buses in the public transport system, informs Zemgale Planning Region.
The opening event of the unmanned bus in Jelgava took place on August 14 and it moved from the entrance to Pasta Island to the active recreation area of the reconstructed Pasta Island with two stops “Tea House” and “Swimming Area”. There, in two weeks, the electric vehicle has traveled 618 kilometers and carried 3,817 passengers.
In Aizkraukle, on the other hand, the bus was opened on September 9, and it ran on the route from Aizkraukles Historyand the Museum of Art to Aizkraukle St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church, the names of the stops are “Museum” and “Church”, respectively. In two weeks, 432 kilometers were traveled in Aizkraukle and 1,877 passengers were transported.
On Zemgale routes with a total of 5,694 passengers, the autonomous bus has covered 1,050 kilometers. In addition, these indicators are very high compared to the achievements of the partners, taking into account that the demonstrations of the autonomous bus in other countries took place for a much longer time, emphasizes the Zemgale Planning Region.
Raitis Madžulis, the project manager of “Sohjoa Baltic”, points out that this type of project is being implemented in Latvia for the first time – the novelty was the scope of the project, as well as the specifics and procurement development. He points out that he does not want to stop at what has been achieved, because there are several cities in Zemgale where this technology could be tried and allowed for the population to get acquainted with it. According to Majžulis, in the future he would like to see autonomous buses even “smarter”, with the possibility to bypass small obstacles. The project team also expresses a wish to try out a remote control vehicle in one of the cities of Zemgale – that is, it would not even contain an operator. Overall, the Sohjoa Baltic team evaluates the project as successful and will soon continue the implementation of the Sohjoa Last Mile project.
The project “Cross-border cooperation for the transition to environmentally friendly autonomous (wireless) first / last mile public transport” is implemented from October 2017 to September 2020 and has a total budget of 3.8 million euros, of which 2.8 million euros co-financed by the INTERREG Baltic Sea Region Transnational Cooperation Program.