New route brings the public into research

The Ride the Future collaboration project is extending the route taken by its autonomous buses. From the middle of September, the route will include Vallastaden residential district in Linköping.

Interaktionsanlys Self driving car at Campus Valla. Thor Balkhed

The buses have previously serviced eight bus stops on Campus Valla, and the extension now adds three more.
The extension into Vallastaden is a further step in the process by which the autonomous buses can become an element in the sustainable mobility solution of the modern city, where Linköping is first in Sweden to bring autonomous buses into the urban environment. Vallastaden has residential areas, schools and elderly care facilities, and all residents will be able to use the buses in everyday life.

Successful collaboration

The buses are one obvious result of the strategic collaboration agreement between Linköping University (LiU) and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).
Adjunct professor Magnus Blinge at LiU finds it exciting that more users will be able to use the buses, and is looking forward to seeing how it will affect teaching at LiU.
“One effect will be that the buses come closer to users off-campus, where more people live and work, and it will be possible to study how autonomous systems can be linked to a larger transport system. And there are plans to connect goods transport and package delivery, which warms the heart of a logistician like me.”
“And it is, of course, also inspiring for our students to see that we are leading in this field, and we believe that a lot of the knowledge and the experience from Ride the Future can be used in teaching.”

Magnus Blinge describes how the broad, extensive and success collaboration between LiU and VTI in the transport field has made it possible to use the Ride the Future project as a mobile platform for research.
“Ride the Future functions as a laboratory in which LiU’s researchers can use new ideas and initiatives in research, innovation and utilisation.”
“For example, we have been awarded a research grant from WASP to examine how the needs and opportunities of people with disabilities are affected by autonomous vehicles. This would never have been possible without our internal work that collected researchers from across the entire width of LiU, and through our collaboration with VTI.”
Head of the Human Factor research field at VTI, Anna Anund, says that the Ride the Future project is relevant to society, where autonomous buses will be a part of the future.
“By saying it’s relevant, I mean that it is available to all and that collaboration around something physical and concrete is positive. In the future, we won’t take our own car unless we have to: autonomous buses provide mobility for everyone, including children and older people. This is constructive, since we know that mobility increases health and quality of life.”

Opened for other research projects

Examples of other research projects within Ride the Future are a study of how people with impaired vision can travel with the buses, and various aspects of how older people and children experience travelling. Some more technical studies are also under way, such as how the buses function in different weather conditions, and how they can be used to collect particles that are harmful to the environment.
In addition to LiU and VTI, many other regional actors are involved in the project, such as Östgötatrafiken, RISE, Transdev, Akademiska hus, Linköping Municipality, and Linköping Science Park.

Read more on Ride the future's website.

Translated by George Farrants

 

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