A self-driving people mover has clocked up its first few metres in a series of tests at Brussels Airport. The shuttle bus will perform demo trips without passengers over the next few days to test the technology.
The joint project between Brussels Airport and Flemish public transportation company De Lijn aims to provide an autonomous shuttle service between the airport terminal and the cargo business zone and parking areas by 2021.
“It’s set to become the showpiece of public transport in Flanders,” said Flemish Minister for Mobility, Ben Weyts. “Foreign visitors will instantly perceive us as an innovative region.”
Driverless vehicles abroad typically drive in their own dedicated lanes. However, the pilot project at Brussels Airport ultimately aims to enable the self-driving shuttle to navigate autonomously through mixed traffic.
“We’re on the verge of a breakthrough in autonomous transport,” said De Lijn director general, Roger Kesteloot. “In the context of basic accessibility, we’re working on the development of a highly developed basic network. If we can reinforce this with a flexible range of shared shuttle vehicles, then we can satisfy the major mobility challenges of the future.”
The pilot project is currently in the development phase, with test rides being conducted on-site at the manufacturer, 2getthere. Additional tests will take place in mixed traffic, in the Brucargo business zone in 2020, to test the bus operation in all weather conditions and traffic scenarios. Finally, passenger transport is anticipated to commence mid-2021.