Oslo is testing new public transport services. Soon, 15 self-driving cars will arrive in Grorodalen.

Oslo is testing new public transport services.  Soon, 15 self-driving cars will arrive in Grorodalen.

These days, five self-driving cars are starting to be tested in Grorodalen. The goal is to increase the number to 15 and get more people out of the car.

These days five NIO ES8 cars start test drives in Groruddalen. Within a year there will be 15 autonomous vehicles in Grorodalen. These should complement regular public transport.

The short version

Many will probably notice the red cars with rooftop sensors and 13 body cameras: within a year, the plan is to have 15 self-driving vehicles in the world. GrorodalenGrorodalenGroruddalen is a collective term for the counties of Alna, Bjerke, Grorud and Stovner. .

The first vehicles have been in traffic several times, but most of them have been in a garage in Grorud. Now the testing period begins gradually. Starting in the new year, they will regularly drive in traffic in Groruddalen.

The purpose of the project is to test a self-driving reservation service, as a complement to existing public transportation in the region.

From 18 to 90 km/h

Initially, there are five NIO ES8 electric cars that have been converted into self-driving cars. When Oslo got its first self-driving buses in 2019, they were not allowed to drive faster than 18 km/h. Now the speed limit is 60 km/h. Rutter expects the Roads Directorate to approve a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h within a short period.

Among other things, self-driving cars are equipped with sensors to measure the speed of the driver in front of them, so that the cars can maintain a safe distance from others in traffic.

Among other things, self-driving cars are equipped with sensors to measure the speed of the driver in front of them, so that the cars can maintain a safe distance from others in traffic.

In the first phase of the testing period, there will be only one security operator on board, but from March, Rotter aims to let the first passengers on board. The first group of passengers will be people working on the project. Eventually, groups of Grorudalen residents will be invited to join. If all goes according to plan, the security personnel will eventually disappear.

The testing will be conducted in several stages and will last for a little over two years. If everything goes according to plan, the pilot project will be open to everyone in the fall of 2024. During the testing period, we hope to have 15 self-driving vehicles, says Vibeke Haarlem.

She is head of radical innovation at Ruter and adds that the vehicles that will be added to the fleet in the future will likely be somewhat larger than the first five.

Vibeke Haarlem at Rutter expects self-driving cars to be attractive to Rutter commuters in Groerdalen.  The ticket price will initially be the same as other public transport trips in Oslo.

Vibeke Haarlem at Rutter expects self-driving cars to be attractive to Rutter commuters in Groerdalen. The ticket price will initially be the same as other public transport trips in Oslo.

Self-driving cars will complement existing public transportation. Travelers in Groruddalen, for example, will be able to order such a car from their home to the nearest underground station. If there is another person walking in the same direction, that person will be picked up on the road.

– Many people drive because public transportation is not flexible enough. With autonomous vehicles transporting you on demand, we can provide a more personalized offer. The goal is to get more people to ditch the private car, says Benjamin A. Overas.

He is a communications consultant at Ruter.

60 million from the European Union

The self-driving car project in Groødalen will cost between 100 and 150 million Norwegian kroner and will last over four years. Rotter received approximately NOK 60 million from the European Union for the pilot project. Additionally, the Enova comes in at NOK 17.5 million. Furthermore, bonus money is used.

Representatives from several public transport companies want to come to Oslo to learn more about self-driving technology and how cars work in practice.

Representatives from several public transport companies want to come to Oslo to learn more about self-driving technology and how cars work in practice.

The European Union’s development program Horizon Europe has provided funding to test autonomous vehicles in three cities: Oslo, Geneva and Hereford in Germany. Oslo has come the farthest in the test. Public transport companies in many European cities are now lining up to visit Oslo to see how Oslo copes with the new technology.

– All EU cities want new transportation solutions that can replace private cars. Oslo is among the cities in Europe that have come a long way in this field. Harlem says there are now at least 100 people from the EU region who want to visit Oslo to see how we work.

Age limit can be specified

The Danish company Holo owns self-driving cars. Holo has cooperated with Ruter for several years and is responsible for, among other things, technology and security.

Norway has one of the best conditions in Europe when it comes to testing autonomous vehicles. That’s why we’re betting here with Root. The driving permit we received in Groruddalen is the first ever granted for this type of vehicle in Europe, says Hans Fredberg, head of Holo in Norway.

There is great enthusiasm among Ruter and Holo employees for self-driving cars.  From left: Benjamin Overas, Vibeke Haarlem, Hans Friedberg and Lars Gunnar Lundestad.

There is great enthusiasm among Ruter and Holo employees for self-driving cars. From left: Benjamin Overas, Vibeke Haarlem, Hans Friedberg and Lars Gunnar Lundestad.

– Many young people live in Grorodalen. Have you ever thought that someone might use the cars as “Russian buses” or commit acts of sabotage?

-We realize that. We brought one of the cars to Coppin High School to show the students. Then someone joked that they wanted to drink beer in it. We are now going through a testing period. Maybe we should introduce a maximum age for use, Harlem answers.

Area of ​​focus for the City Council

Oslo’s new transport councilor, Marit Kristin Via (V), has no doubt that Oslo will invest more in self-driving technology.

– This is a very important measure to reduce car traffic. We’ve worked for a long time to make public transportation more attractive to people in the outer city, but car traffic hasn’t decreased much. With such measures allowing people to have a more adaptive public transport service, more people will tend to get rid of the car. This is the future, says Via.

Transport consultant Marit Christine Via (V) says autonomous vehicles will make more people ditch the car.

Transport consultant Marit Christine Via (V) says autonomous vehicles will make more people ditch the car.

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Hanisi Anenih

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