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Even before the self-driving shuttles get out on the roads, the LINC project is contributing to increased knowledge about the technology and the future potential for companies, municipalities and citizens. At Transport 2019 in Herning, the Transport Minister of Denmark Ole Birk Olesen swung by the exhibition stand.
By Lene Ulsted Carlsen
Although the self-driving shuttles in the LINC project will not be on the roads at the DTU Campus in Lyngby until the second half of 2019, there is already demand for the knowledge that the project’s participants have built up. The bus operator Nobina was invited to the transport fair Transport 2019 in Herning, Denmark, at the end of March, where it was able to demonstrate a self-driving shuttle.
“Of course we were a part of the fair, as it is important for us at Nobina to get a dialogue going on what self-driving technology can do, how we can get more test experiments on the roads in Denmark, how we can use the technology and how to rethink cities with self-driving technology in the future,” says Nikolaj Kyhn, Head of Business Development at Nobina Denmark, which is responsible for the operation of the self-driving shuttles in LINC’s tests.
The self-driving shuttle drove along a 100-meter stretch through the exhibition hall in Herning through 21 to 23 March, somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors got a ride and many had a talk with Nobina representatives about the autonomous vehicles. One of those visitors was Denmark’s Transport Minister Ole Birk Olesen, who said he was looking forward to seeing the self-driving shuttles out on the roads.
Nobina’s employees on the exhibition stand at Transport 2019 were kept busy in discussions with representatives of both companies and municipalities.
“It has been interesting to have a dialogue with the visitors about what the self-driving shuttles can and cannot do at the present time. I find that there is a lack of knowledge about how far along the technology is at present and when the self-driving technology might be an integrated part of our cities,” says Nikolaj Kyhn. He elaborates with the reason why Nobina has embarked on a project like LINC:
“We simply have to put some resources into trying it out now and not wait for the technology to be more developed. We must help push the development and shape the future of our mobility. It is very important that municipalities consider self-driving transport in sustainable urban mobility plans. Therefore, it is also important that we get more self-driving projects on the roads so that we can test the technology. Either we are planning a six-lane highway, or we re-consider our mobility. Knowledge and experiments with self-driving technologies can contribute to this.”
Both the LINC-project and the self-driving technologies have garnered great interest, not only from companies and municipalities, but also from citizens. This has meant that Hannah Villadsen, who researches the interaction between people and self-driving technology at Roskilde University and is affiliated with the LINC-project, has been invited to a conference on mobility at the Danish Society for the Blind. She says she has also experienced several people expressing that they believe a self-driving future is right around the corner, but that this is not necessarily the case:
“The thought is fantastic, but it is also detached from the complex context that we need the self-driving technologies to work in. The self-driving shuttles are not ready to replace other modes of transport today and they are not ready to drive in the same traffic as the vehicles we know today. We are just not there yet,” explained Hannah Villadsen at the conference.
The next step in knowledge sharing on self-driving technologies will take place when LINC, DTU Skylab, Smart City Cybersecurity Lab, Gate 21 and the Capital Region of Denmark invite others to a hackathon about smart city technology and cyber security. Here, students, employees from municipalities, companies and others with an interest in these topics can try to:
Read more about the hackathon here (in Danish).