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.