A spa town in Lower Bavaria was the setting for the unveiling of a self-driving bus this week, when Deutsche Bahn (DB) began operating Germany’s first autonomous vehicle on the streets of Bad Birnbach.
Operating along a 700-metre-long route between the town’s centre and its thermal baths, the red and white vehicle represents the first regular autonomous bus service on German streets.
DB has collaborated closely with vehicle developer EasyMile and TÜV Süd on the project, and plans to extend the route next year to link Bad Birnbach’s town centre and rail station.
The electric minibus does not have a steering wheel or gas pedal, and carries a member of staff able to intervene if anything goes wrong.
“We have just entered a new age of completely automated transport,” said Deutsche Bahn CEO Dr. Richard Lutz.
“We are the first company in Germany to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads and to local public transport. Our aim is to further integrate road and rail so as to enable individual mobility even in rural areas without the need to own a car,” continued Lutz.
“With the regular autonomous bus services starting today in Bad Birnbach, the town is showcasing the mobility of the future and a more flexible form of local public transport, particularly for rural areas,” said Rottal-Inn district administrator Michael Fahmüller.