One-click mobility without owning a car

With ‘ioki’, Deutsche Bahn is well on the way to firmly establishing demand responsive mobility and self-driving fleets in the public transport segment.

Passengers can use a smartphone app to book a self-driving electric bus to pick them up from their doorstep at a specific time and take them to the station. Along the way, the shuttle automatically picks up passengers with similar routes. To a certain extent, that’s still science fiction. Nevertheless, Deutsche Bahn (DB) is already working on making it a reality in the foreseeable future. Today, the concern presented its latest service under the brand name of ‘ioki’. The aim of ‘ioki’ is the establishment of demand responsive mobility and autonomous driving within existing public transport systems.

In the words of Berthold Huber, Board Member for Passenger Transport at DB, ‘With ioki, today sees us already providing the answers to tomorrow’s mobility needs. Our vision is the even stronger alignment of our services with our customers’ specific needs to make their daily travel simpler and more flexible – without using their own cars, available demand responsive transport, digitally bookable, in urban and rural areas and with direct connections to rail services.’ Today, DB already plays a pioneering role in this: in October of this year, Germany’s first self-driving bus service will begin carrying passengers in the Bavarian town of Bad Birnbach.

ioki is positioned as a full-service provider of new, road-based forms of mobility. The team of 40 IT and transportation specialists, developers and product designers analyses and determines demand for towns, cities, communities and transportation operators, assists with official approval procedures and offers customer solutions from a single source: From perfectly tailored vehicle and routing concepts to digital platforms that enable passengers to take advantage of the new services.
After the start of services in Bad Birnbach, ioki is now pressing ahead with the concrete implementation of other plans, for instance in Hamburg. In 2018, in the context of the Smart City Partnership between DB and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, ioki will be conducting trials with a driver-based shuttle service with connections to the city’s existing public transport infrastructure. This will function according to the ridesharing principle – in other words, several passengers share a vehicle that can be digitally booked from a smartphone app. In addition, Hamburg has also been chosen for a field test of self-driving electric buses connecting with stations.

ioki is a component of the DB digitalisation offensive that encompasses the development of new, interconnected and climate-friendly mobility services that meaningfully supplement rail transport.

Five facts about ioki

With ioki, Deutsche Bahn is bringing demand responsive mobility and autonomous driving to the public transport segment.
ioki is a full-service provider that enables third parties such as towns and cities or communal authorities to operate demand responsive mobility concepts in public transport under their own name. Under the umbrella of the ioki brand, DB integrates autonomous driving on public roads in existing public transport infrastructures.

ioki develops solutions for metropolitan and rural areas
The potentials for increasing the sustainability and efficiency of public transport systems and enabling personal mobility without car ownership by the provision of demand responsive transport solutions are particularly high in rural areas with low population density.

ioki has already concretely implemented pilot projects for the evaluation of demand responsive mobility and autonomous driving scenarios

  • Following initial trials in Berlin and Leipzig, October of this year will see the start of the first self-driving bus service in Bad Birnbach.
  • In 2018, in the context of the Smart City Partnership between DB and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, ioki will be implementing a driver-based, demand responsive transport shuttle service with connections to the city’s existing public transport infrastructure and field trials for a self-driving bus service.

ioki utilises state-of-the-art technologies and vehicles
ioki takes full advantage of the most innovative vehicle concepts and technologies in the development of its products and solutions. These are realised with technologies that ensure that they can be flexibly adapted to meet the specific operational requirements of ioki customers.

Together with its partners, ioki plays a pioneering role in the establishment of framework conditions and standardised approval procedures for autonomous transportation concepts
At present, there are no standardised procedures for the approval of highly automated or autonomous transportation services. In view of this, ioki works together with partners from industry, science and politics on the further development of such systems and the corresponding regulatory framework. ioki aims to have the first autonomous transportation concepts in regular service by 2025.

Source: Deutsche Bahn statement to the press