When you think of the future of mobility, you see young people racing through skyscraper canyons in futuristic robot taxis in your mind’s eye. In reality, most autonomous projects do not drive sleek robot taxis in German metropolises. Instead, ponderous-looking minibuses, so-called people movers, move through narrow alleys and across marketplaces in smaller towns and rural areas. This is the case in Bad Birnbach, for example. The small town in the Lower Bavarian spa triangle, which is known for its thermal baths, has been attracting not only wellness guests but also fans and experts of new mobility since 2017. The reason for this is a small, box-like vehicle with a top speed of only 15 km/h: it is Germany’s first autonomous public bus!
Anyone who thought of the year 2020 20 years ago probably had in mind, autonomous cars that would be romping all around on the streets. Today’s reality, however, teaches us otherwise and proves that the situation is much better: Although we are continuously on the right track, there is still no question of autonomous vehicles dominating the road traffic.
Philipp Hanßen is a transport planner in ioki’s Mobility Analytics and Consulting (MAC) team. He started his career at ioki 2.5 years ago as an intern and working student in the MAC team and is currently writing his thesis for his master’s degree in transport engineering at ioki. The thesis sheds light on the framework conditions for the successful use of on-demand transport in rural areas. Since the end of 2021, he has been supporting the interdisciplinary team as a transport planner in actively shaping the transport revolution.