Kongsberg Introduces Driverless Minibuses

This autumn, driverless minibuses will hit the roads

In September 2018, autonomous minibuses will be tested in the streets of Kongsberg.  Autonomous, driverless, transportation solutions, will soon be part of the everyday life in the Norwegian town, and Kongsberg will make sure to be in the lead when technology and solutions are to be developed.

The project is called Testsite Kongsberg, and the trials of the autonomous minibuses will be conducted in a real-life environment among Kongsberg’s public traffic and pedestrians. This will help put Kongsberg on the map in a national and international context.

Towards an autonomous future

The goal with testing autonomous minibuses in Kongsberg is to gain knowledge and to learn. Kongsberg, will among other things; customize solutions for fleets of autonomous minibuses and create solutions for control rooms as well as regulatory functions. Lessons learned will be shared with collaborating cities and the public sector.

– We’re still in a very early phase with autonomous transportation technologies, says Ingar Vaskinn, Head of Business Development in The Municipality of Kongsberg.

– However, there are still opportunities to take positions that haven’t been taken yet, also globally. Right now, we’re focusing on establishing a foundation for a future industry within autonomous buses here in Kongsberg. May be this is the start of a new industrial adventure, Vaskinn says.

Kongsberg Innovasjon AS has established the startup company Applied Autonomy AS, with Norway’s leading expert on autonomous solutions, Olav Madland on board. Applied Autonomy will be Kongsberg’s driving force for creating new solutions within autonomous transportation and build networks with diverse actors both locally, nationally, and globally.

Long traditions for high-tech development

Ingar Vaskinn and The Municipality of Kongsberg, works to ensure development of future business areas to secure and create new jobs, and has shown great commitment in facilitating autonomous development in Kongsberg. The project has broad support among politicians and the municipal executive board voted for Kongsberg to play a central role.

– As a city and society with history and traditions for high-technology systems and solutions, Kongsberg, has experience in testing and developing complex systems. Examples include submarines, vessel control systems and coastal surveillance systems, autonomous ships, autonomous snow removal vehicles and remotely controlled airport towers, says Vaskinn.

Calls for collaboration

– To secure future solutions and technology development we’re working on establishing a “sandbox” in Kongsberg, where different actors and environments can experiment, collaborate and innovate together. Kongsberg will take a national position, and invites everyone interested to join the “sandbox” to get involved and take part in developing new technology and smart solutions for the future. Testsite Kongsberg for autonomous vehicles is just the start of this creative playground.

– This will also be one of Kongsberg’s contributions to the green shift – driverless electrical transportation with zero-emission. I believe this will increase Kongsberg’s attractiveness as a Technology City, enabling new areas in cities and towns with fewer cars, fewer parking spaces and emission-free vehciles, Vaskinn says.

– The possibilities for autonomous transportation are amazing. When the technology is in place and the solutions are secure and safe, we will see that agricultural machines, boats, passenger cars, snow removal vehicles, trucks, aircrafts and drones will become autonomous. And it’s only the beginning….

 

This text was originally published in Norwegian by the Kongsberg magazine / 3600.no. 

 

Kongsberg set to become Norway’s first 5G pilot

A key element for our ability to use new technologies such as autonomous, driverless, vehicles

Kongsberg is to become the first town in Norway which Telenor will pilot 5G technology. Autonomous buses, drones, emergency communication and eHealth are just some of the applications which may be trialled.

– 5G technology could transform many critical social applications such as traffic management, health services and key communication services, including emergency communication. We are therefore thrilled to announce this partnership with Kongsberg’s exciting environment of innovation, says Ove Fredheim, Head of Telenor’s Corporate Market Division.

The letter of intent was signed today at the Kongsberg Technology Summit in the presence of all the collaboration partners. The initial participants in the pilot are Telenor, Kongsberg municipality, Applied Autonomy and Kongsberg Innovasjon. Other parties will be able to sign up in due course.

– We will test specific applications and technologies which will be controlled via the 5G network. The initial trials will involve an autonomous bus, which will have a dedicated 5G network from the railway station to the industrial park in Kongsberg, says Fredheim.

The new 5G network will see the introduction of what is known as “network slicing”. This technology makes it possible to offer more logical networks adapted to meet the needs of different user groups in terms of bandwidth, reliability and system lag over the same physical network. 5G technology offers considerable flexibility in terms of services and can be configured to meet widely varying customer needs over a single common infrastructure.

– 5G presents us with entirely new opportunities for developing and operating services and control functions for autonomous vehicles, says Olav Madland of Applied Autonomy.

 

Bringing autonomous transportation into cities

Kongsberg is among 13 partners across 8 countries that are part of a new EU-project called Sohjoa Baltic. The project aim is to bring autonomous transportation into cities around the Baltic Sea.

Public transport is not as flexible and accessible as private cars in the Baltic Sea region. The Sohjoa Baltic project works towards increasing the attractiveness of public transport by improving offered services and introducing autonomous driverless electric minibuses, especially for the first and last mile of the journey. It proposes recommendations for environmentally friendly and smart automated public transport and guidelines on the organisational set-up. The project will run from 2017 to 2020 and is financed by the EU with about 4 million euros.

Kongsberg’s role

Kongsberg represents Norway in the consortium of partners in the Sohjoa Baltic project. As one of 13 partners, Kongsberg is responsible for leading the driverless minibus study on long city demonstrations. Based on the demonstrations, Kongsberg will contribute with knowledge on vehicle operation in difficult environments, support systems for operators and users, information and ticketing systems, city planning, infrastructure optimization and the travel behavior and interaction of automated vehicles.

Kongsberg will start trials with an autonomous minibus in september 2018. The autonomous bus will be tested in a real-life environment among Kongsberg’s public traffic and pedestrians.

Sohjoa Baltic 13 partners across 8 countries

  • Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (FI), lead partner
  • The Municipality of Kongsberg (NO)
  • Forum Virium Helsinki (FI)
  • Finnish Transport Safety Agency (FI)
  • Helsinki Region Transport Authority HSL (FI)
  • FLOU Solutions Ltd (FI)
  • Tallinn University of Technology (EE)
  • Tallinn Transport Department (EE)
  • Chalmers University of Technology (SE)
  • Zemgale Planning Region (LV)
  • Institute fro Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (DE)
  • The City of Gdansk (PL)
  • The Municipality of Vejle (DK)

The Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications test drove a driverless bus

Autonomous technology is developing faster than anyone could have imagined. “What we thought would happen in 10–15 years is happening now”, says the Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications, Kjetil Solvik Olsen.

In Kongsberg, the Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications test drove an autonomous bus on a closed test site. Kongsberg will start trials in public public traffic in 2018.

“This could bring us freedom and increased mobility. I firmly believe that our future lies in connecting technology, vehicles and environmentally-friendly solutions like these”, says Kjetil Solvik Olsen.