Mainly positive feedback on robot buses used in a pilot study on automated public transport

Mainly positive feedback on robot buses used in a pilot study on automated public transport

Published 16.12.2016

Self-driving robot buses were tested on the streets of Hernesaari in Helsinki, Otaniemi in Espoo and Hervanta in Tampere at the end of the summer and during the past autumn. In this SOHJOA project, self-driving buses were operated for the first time in a real traffic environment.

The operation of automated vehicles was tested in Finnish conditions as part of the NordicWay project, funded by the Finnish Transport Agency and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Trafi. The aim of the pilot study on automated public transport was to use robot buses in a real traffic environment and to examine how the robot buses could complement the current transport system. The trial gave companies an opportunity to test and develop their own solutions as well as the robot bus, as part of the open innovation platform used in the SOHJOA project.

"In our transport authority role, we want to support the creation of the new services and companies that were examined in the SOHJOA trial", says Ilkka Kotilainen, Project Manager at the Finnish Transport Agency.

Automated road transport improves traffic safety by reducing the number of accidents, in which people's inattention nowadays play a significant role. Fewer vehicles reduce emissions, and society benefits from more effective transport as automated vehicles are used by more people.

In Finland, robot bus operations can be promoted in all weather conditions

The robot bus trial was conducted in three cities without encountering any significant problems, and the feedback from the people participating in the bus trial was mainly positive. The negative feedback was mainly in regards to the speed of the bus, since many found the bus moving too slowly.

The greatest problems in the robot bus trial were related to the weather conditions and to other external factors. In particular, wrongly parked cars and cars overtaking too closely caused problems for the robot bus operations.

Experience gained so far shows that in order to achieve year-round operation of robot buses among other traffic, some questions have to be resolved. Most of the problems can be solved using the remote-control of the robot bus and by arranging traffic to suit the robot bus. When thinking about the future, it is also important that other road users learn to better observe robot buses among other traffic.

"There is no single solution; instead both the artificial intelligence and the surrounding infrastructure have to be further developed. We have to gradually bring that intelligence into the other road vehicles as well", says Harri Santamala, Project Manager of the SOHJOA project.

Based on the SOHJOA project's first year of trials, Finland has a good chance of promoting the operation of robot buses and other automated transport during all four seasons. The experience gained from the trial will be used in the coming trials conducted in the SOHJOA project.

Further information

Project Manager Ilkka Kotilainen, Finnish Transport Agency, phone 050 311 8016 or
Project Manager Harri Santamala, Metropolia AMK, phone 040 334 1516 or

Information about the project: