New autonomous shuttle pilots are scheduled to be conducted in the municipalities of Bourtange and Midden-Groningen.
By the end of this year, the Province of Groningen – together with Fort Bourtange, the municipality of Westerwolde and several other parties – aim to launch the first of these two autonomous shuttle pilots within Fort Bourtange.
New about this pilot is that it shall involve tourist transportation. In addition, a study is currently being conducted whether the shuttle service can be combined with a parcel delivery service. This pilot is a follow-up to previous autonomous shuttle pilots in the Province of Groningen, including the ongoing one in Scheemda.
Apart from this first pilot, the Province of Groningen has announced plans to launch another autonomous shuttle pilot together with the municipality of Midden-Groningen and several other parties from early 2020 onwards. This pilot is expected to last half a year, during which a shuttle shall be specifically tested within busier traffic conditions, involving regular car traffic and somewhat higher shuttle speeds than currently is the case in other ongoing pilots. Both pilots shall offer new insights regarding the development of autonomous transportation as well as to how exactly it – in practice – is to be introduced.
The preparations for the Bourtange pilot are now well underway. After the summer, the preparations for the Midden-Groningen pilots will also commence, among others involving route assessment, the purchase of a shuttle and test driving. The shuttle is expected to be operational in Bourtange by the end of this year and in Midden-Groningen from the beginning of 2020 onwards.
By conducting these pilots, the Province of Groningen is mapping out in what way this new form of transportation can contribute to the accessibility and liveability within the province. For example, right now a pilot in Scheemda is being conducted, involving a shuttle currently running between the town’s hospital entrance and its nearest bus stop. This pilot has recently been extended for several months, until the end of this year. Starting next month, another new shuttle shall be operational on this route, which shall offer wheelchair transport services and shall allow the now still required turn-around manoeuvre at the route’s endpoints to no longer be necessary.