Setting the route for autonomous electric buses

Kista is the unassuming neighborhood north of Sweden’s capital city which Ericsson calls home. During the dark winter months, the streets are usually calm in Kista. But starting in January, something very remarkable is on the move in this otherwise conventional area.

autonomous electric buses

Lead solution architect

Lead solution architect

There is an experiment going on in Kista, which in typical Swedish fashion isn’t making a big noise, but which certainly has big implications. Two autonomous electric buses are quietly traversing the neighborhood, picking up passengers free of charge along a 1.4km route. With a sleek, modern design, the buses are painted with the inviting Swedish slogan of “Åk med”, meaning “come along for the ride”.

Multimodal transport creates broad possibilities

Sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles on Kista’s roads, the buses travel along their route at speeds up to 24 km per hour. If you didn’t know better, you might think they are just a cute little addition to the Stockholm public transit system. But in reality, these autonomous buses are at the leading edge of transport technology.

While you may have heard a lot of high-minded theories about automated vehicles and transport IoT, technological breakthroughs in 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI) are making it possible for real, practical vehicles like the buses in Kista to drive themselves. Beyond just making the daily commute easier, automation will make all aspects of travel and transport more efficient, while making roads safer for passengers and pedestrians.

Data is the driver

Along the route traveled by the autonomous buses in Kista, roadside infrastructure such as traffic lights and bus shelters have been equipped with sensors that exchange data with the buses through the cloud. Ericsson’s Connected Urban Transport platform serves as the virtual bus driver, communicating with connected infrastructure and devices.

Vehicle-to-everything (V2E) data communication not only helps the bus driving system steer the bus, it creates the foundation for a greater intelligent transport system. Aggregated data unites roadways, public transport, logistics networks, and public safety services into one system that collectively functions more efficiently, and more ecologically.

Autonomous electric buses

Unifying intelligent traffic systems

Connected Urban Transport makes it easier for cities to get on board with intelligent transport, integrating individual solutions, like the autonomous buses, into a wider traffic ecosystem. Legacy platforms and cutting-edge technologies can be integrated into one secure, cooperative system using the Connected Urban Transport overlay.

This makes it possible for individual cities, multi-city regional cooperatives, and even entire nations to build coordinated, multimodal traffic systems. With one central operational system, the data generated by connected vehicles and roadside infrastructure can be safely and securely shared in the cloud across transport agencies, municipalities and service providers. The result is improved traffic flows, faster emergency response times, easier maintenance, unified asset procurement, and improved tracking of processes and goals.

As the autonomous buses travel along at a safe and steady pace in suburban Stockholm, they illustrate the rapid progress being driven by Connected Urban Transport. From a humble beginning in the Stockholm suburbs, these little buses are setting a big example for automated, connected transport.

See how travelers react to the autonomous electric buses in Stockholm.

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