The provincial authorities of Fryslân, together with Dockinga College in Dokkum, are running a project in the context of the National Experiment on Shrinking Populations (“Rijkssexperiment Krimp”). In collaboration with the municipal authorities, transport provider and various national government departments, it is explored whether a self-driving vehicle can make a connection between two school locations for the transport of students. At the same time, the vehicle will be able to provide its services to the villages in between. This combination of student transport and public transport will help to improve the accessibility of this area. The aim is to run this project between Dokkum and Ferwert by 2020 and possibly explore local opportunities even before then.
By this experiment, we want to explore a number of things.
- What efficient, affordable and reliable ways are there of transporting students and other target groups in sparsely populated areas?
- How can autonomous transport help to keep public amenities accessible in areas with a shrinking and aging population?
- How to acquire more knowledge of future business cases regarding the use of autonomous transport in sparsely populated areas.
- Acquiring more knowledge of the use of new concepts regarding door-to-door public transport.
- How to ensure that autonomous transport becomes an accepted form of transport among various target groups (students and their parents, senior citizens, etc.).
- How to accelerate the use of autonomous transport by challenging manufacturers of self-driving vehicles to develop and/or make available suitable concepts.
We are currently looking into the feasibility of this experiment. We are exploring what route can be driven and with what type of vehicle. For this, it is important to get the permission from lawmakers and road administrators.
The vehicle is intended for supervised students from Dokkum and Ferwert, as well as for passengers from the villages in between.
The project is currently looking for parties that can make the pilot into a success, such as a vehicle supplier.