MAN partners with Mobileye for self-driving buses
Truck and bus manufacturer MAN wants to work with technology group Mobileye to advance automated driving. The long-term goal is the series production of autonomous city buses – but for now, the aim is to take more modest steps.
From the bus manufacturer’s point of view, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is the driving force behind driving automation. After all, drivers are expensive – and a driverless bus fleet has one less cost factor. This is especially true for urban transportation. “The fact that urban bus mobility in the future will not only be emission-free and networked, but also automated, is not a general question, but simply a question of time,” says Barbaros Oktay, Head of Bus at MAN Truck & Bus. According to the MAN manager, highly automated driverless solutions in urban areas have significantly improved cost-effectiveness compared to driver-assisted offerings and offer its users safe and reliable mobility.
In its cooperation with Mobileye, MAN is primarily reflecting on Mobileye Drive, a turnkey self-driving system that is ready for scalable commercial deployment and features a sophisticated sensor system, according to MAN. It also features “safety by design” and the use of highly scalable AV cards. Mobileye will provide this intelligent Automated Driving System along the planned roadmap of the proposed collaboration. Meanwhile, MAN will create the necessary vehicle architecture to meet bus automation requirements. The first joint goal of the two partners is the pilot operation of an automated city bus. This will operate – albeit still equipped with a safety driver – in Munich from 2025 as part of the MINGA research project.
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Another task in the R&D roadmap is to integrate the autonomous vehicles into a comprehensive ecosystem. After all, bus automation in complex urban environments means more than just the driving function: Just think of other activities performed by the driving personnel, such as communication with passengers including ticket sales, behavior at the bus stop, de-escalation in conflict situations, or even reaction to unexpected events such as detours or accidents. Intelligent solutions are needed for this. MAN Truck and Bus is hoping that such solutions can be found, especially thanks to the increasing possibilities in the area of digitalization.
The first automated MAN bus of the Lion’s City E type is to prove itself in Munich city traffic from 2025, accompanied by a safety driver but essentially automated. It is to be used on bus route 144 through the Olympic Park, which is dominated by tourism and leisure, as part of the MINGA research project. In this project, MAN and other project partners from industry, science, administration, and associations are working on issues such as the integration of automated vehicles into the existing mobility ecosystem. MAN Truck & Bus is then planning further pilot projects in actual customer use. Full series production readiness is to be achieved by the end of the decade. The fact that Germany was the first country in the world to create the legal framework for autonomous driving is a key advantage in this regard from the bus manufacturer’s perspective.
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