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LINC: Frequently asked questions

What is the LINC project about?

LINC is working to strengthen public transport so that collective mobility continues to play a key role in Denmark’s future public transport system. LINC is testing autonomous shuttles in two selected areas in LOOP CITY, where the new light rail is also being installed from 2018 to 2025.

The long-term plan for the project is that the new autonomous shuttles can be connected to the upcoming light rail and its 29 stations, creating good traffic connections to the areas around each station. By doing this, the self-driving buses can potentially contribute to increasing the range and passenger numbers on the light rail.

One advantage is that traffic congestion can be minimised, as more motorists will become passengers on the light rail and autonomous shuttles. LINC is focused on further developing collective mobility, in the light of the fact that the future development of autonomous cars is likely to increase traffic volume and exacerbate congestion. In the metropolitan area a traffic congestion increase of 15 per cent is expected, according to the Road Directorate’s forecast from 2017.

What are the advantages of self-driving shuttles?

Advantages of autonomous shuttles:

  • Improved road safety
  • More frequent pick-up
  • More flexibility when bus routes are planned
  • Increased mobility for the elderly, people with disabilities and children
  • Ability to bring the passenger closer to their destination, as self-driving shuttles are not tied to stations
  • Reduced CO2 and particulate emissions, as shuttles run on electricity
  • Less congestion and parking space used because the shuttles are small and run at a higher frequency
  • More mobility for the money, and the belief is that in the future, municipalities should be able to deliver a better public shuttle service to citizens for less money as transportation costs are reduced. This is because the prospective costs of running electric vehicles are lower.
How is the project funded?

The total project budget is approximately 31.4 million DKK. The partners co-finance around 6.3 million DKK. The EU-funded program Urban Innovative Actions is covering 25 million DKK.

Who is the project’s donor?

The project’s donor is Urban Innovative Actions (UIA). UIA is an EU-funded program linked to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This is the first UIA project in Denmark.

UIA strongly supports innovative projects, especially those “not yet seen in Europe”. UIA is covering 80 percent of the project’s costs.

Who are the project partners?

The project’s partners are:

  • Albertslund Municipality (project owner)
  • Gladsaxe Municipality
  • Nobina
  • IBM
  • LOOP CITY
  • Gate 21
  • Roskilde University (RUC)
  • The Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

The partners have expertise in autonomous shuttle operation, security approval, project management, bus contracting, user behaviour, data-driven platforms and analytical systems.

The project’s advisory board is: Movia, the Capital Region of Denmark, Aalborg Municipality and the Metro company, plus the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail. The project’s advisory board consists of organisations that are currently involved in driverless bus tests in Denmark.

Together these partners provide a very good basis for knowledge sharing.

In addition, there is a wider follow-up group: the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, the Danish Association of the Disabled, Vallensbæk Municipality, Hvidovre Municipality and others. All other LOOP CITY municipalities are invited to be part of the followers group.

When does the project start?

The project has been in a preparatory phase since 1 November 2017. Implementation began on March 1, 2018. The project lasts three years. We expect to start the first shuttle test at the beginning of 2019. Prior to that, permission must be obtained from the Danish Road Directorate to use autonomous shuttles on public roads.

Where are the shuttles going to drive?

For the LINC project, permission is being sought to test the shuttles in two areas: Hersted Industrial Park in Albertslund Municipality and at the DTU Campus in Lyngby-Taarbæk Municipality.

Why did you choose to hold the test in Hersted Industrial Park and at DTU Campus Lyngby?

The LINC project partners have conducted an initial analysis of these two areas, which shows that they offer good opportunities for test-drives in terms of security considerations, possibilities for limiting existing traffic and relatively well-defined areas.

We will start the test at DTU Campus in Lyngby, where we have a low-traffic test environment (pedestrians and cyclists) to consider. Then we will continue the test in Hersted Industrial Park, which is a business area with heavier traffic. The idea is that we constantly increase the intensity – starting at DTU Campus in Lyngby and then in Hersted Industrial Park.

The routes will be assessed during the initial phase of the project and must be approved by the Danish Road Directorate.

What are you going to test?

At DTU Campus there are 10,300 students and 5,800 employees, while Hersted Industrial Park consists of more than 700 companies. The areas provide a good basis for testing the shuttles in real urban spaces with citizens who have real transport needs. The autonomous shuttles will be dependent on computer-driven solutions, so we will be able to see what this demands of digital and physical infrastructure and how different passengers interact with the shuttles.

How many shuttles do you expect to have running?

We expect to have three autonomous shuttles running in this project. First at DTU Campus and then at Hersted Industrial Park.

Which shuttles are you going to use?

The project is technology-neutral and does not work with one particular bus manufacturer. Public transport operators are currently running shuttles from several different manufacturers and they will most likely do so in the future, as there are already several different autonomous shuttles manufacturers on the market (Navya, Easymile, Local Motors, etc.).

In the spring/summer of 2018 the project prepared a market analysis that provides a good basis for purchasing specific buses for the project.

When will the shuttles start running

New legislation from July 2017 paves the way for driverless vehicles to be tested on public roads in Denmark.We expect the first shuttles to be tested at DTU Campus in Lyngby in the first half of 2019, and we are in close dialogue with the projects assessor and the Danish Road Directorate about making that happen. After that, another test will be carried out in Hersted Industrial Park in the first half of 2020.

Have you/LINC submitted an application to the Danish Road Directorate?

No, we haven’t done this yet. This will happen in the second half of 2018. But we are already in dialogue with the Danish Road Directorate and have an approved assessor onboard.

Other frequently asked questions

Won’t self-driving cars solve the traffic congestion challenges and improve mobility, meaning we won’t need autonomous shuttles?

There are several contradictory consequences of more autonomous vehicles on the road. The arrival of autonomous privately-owned cars will mean that cars will be able to drive closer together (connected cars) and create up to 30 percent more space on the roads. Private cars will be more based on the sharing economy, and it will become more attractive to have access to a vehicle rather than own it. On the other hand, autonomous cars might be so attractive that the available space is quickly absorbed by even more autonomous cars.

The Danish Road Directorate points out that in metropolitan areas where traffic congestion problems are at their worst, congestion could increase by 15 percent (February 2017).

Autonomous vehicles and the sharing economy will therefore not necessarily contribute to significantly increasing road capacity in cities, as there are two opposing effects. Because autonomous cars can drive closer together, we can better utilise our roads. At the same time, it will become more attractive to drive in autonomous cars.

Is the light rail at Ring 3 ever going to eventuate?

The Civil Service Act was adopted by the Danish parliament on 31 May 2016. In the first quarter of 2018, the final ownership approval of the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail was signed, and contracts were also signed with the winning contractors who will build and operate the light rail, which is to be built by the Danish contractors Aarsleff, CG Jensen and M.J. Eriksson. The transport system (train and railway infrastructure) is provided by Siemens and Aarsleff Rail, and operations and maintenance will be carried out by Metro Service.

Read more about the Greater Copenhagen light rail here.

Are we ready for self-driving shuttles? Society, the roads, humans...

We still don’t quite know how the cities of the future should be designed to better accommodate self-driving vehicles on their streets. If buses can be ordered on demand in the future, and can start and stop anywhere, how do we manage that in relation to the layout of the streets and bus stops as we know them today? These are just some of the things the LINC project is going to test.

LINC is working on the question of how a new intelligent transport system can be organized in LOOP CITY. As the new light rail is established, the entire ring city will be increasingly transformed as it attracts new workers and residents. The project will look into two urban development areas along the Greater Copenhagen light rail track: Hersted Industrial Park and Gladsaxe RingCity. For these two selected areas, instructions will be given on the design of the digital and physical infrastructure in the future, in order to support autonomous collective mobility.

Can we feel safe with self-driving shuttles?

Autonomous shuttles seem to be safer than the vehicles we know today. With the shuttle’s navigation systems it is possible to respond more quickly to dangerous situations.

There will be a steward aboard each bus during the test phase, which will help to increase safety.

Copenhagen’s metro has been driverless for many years, and today people have become accustomed to this and feel safe.

Who is liable if something goes wrong?

It is the organization(s) who have applied to test autonomous vehicles that would be liable in the case of an accident.