The Deutsche Bahn subsidiary is working with project partners on an autonomous shuttle bus with teleoperation.
Connecting rural regions better to public transport, increasing user acceptance of autonomous services, making mobility more sustainable – the research project “Bavarian Autonomous Remote-Controlled Shuttle” (BARCS) is contributing to highly relevant and impressive goals of our time.
To this end, the cooperation partners consisting of LiDAR specialist Blickfeld, Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Regio Bus, represented by Regionalbus Ostbayern GmbH (RBO), design and engineering service provider Uedelhoven, Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences with the CARISSMA research and test center, and Munich University of Applied Sciences are developing a demonstrator that will serve to evaluate the technical and user requirements for highly automated vehicles.
3D environment detection with LiDAR for safe autonomous driving
BARCS is intended to pave the way for the widespread use of autonomous shuttle buses in public transport. For this purpose, it must be ensured that the vehicles can safely detect and evaluate their environment in order to be able to operate autonomously. For additional security, a teleoperator will remotely supervise several vehicles on different routes. By allowing buses to drive autonomously and one operator to keep an eye on several routes, the typical problem of a shortage of staff and high personnel costs is solved. This way local public transport can be expanded in rural areas and made accessible to many additional areas.
In order to achieve 3D environment detection, the consortium relies in particular on Blickfeld LiDAR sensors in combination with stereo cameras. For this purpose, Blickfeld adapts its sensor technology to the project requirements in terms of hardware and software interfaces, thus enabling 360° detection around the shuttle bus. Blickfeld’s LiDAR sensor technology is particularly well suited for this purpose thanks to its wide sensor field of view as well as its robust solid-state design and remarkably small size. The captured LiDAR data is fused with other sensor data and evaluated using artificial intelligence to detect obstacles in the travel path.
Sights set on full autonomy
The long-term goal, even beyond the project, is the full autonomous operation of shuttle buses, without additional teleoperation. Until that point is reached, the primary goal is to increase user acceptance of autonomous public transportation services. BARCS is therefore investigating the status, conditions and potential for increasing the acceptance of autonomous shuttle buses as a further research objective.
The project is scheduled to run for three years and is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy as part of the Bavarian Joint Research Program (BayVFP) in the funding line “Digitalization”, funding area Information and Communication Technology.