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Northern Lights on the Nordic AV Scene

Friday, May 24, 2024

Not only has there been a lot of Northern lights in the skies lately, but there is also quite a lot of action on the Nordic AV scene. Here’s our report on what’s happening in the Northern parts of Europe. 

Our news reporting on driverless technologies typically originates from the hot tech spots in the USA and Asia. But now it’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening in the Northern part of Europe, starting with our next-door neighbor, Norway.

In the Stavanger region, the Public Transportation Agency (PTA) Kolumbus has set an ambitious agenda to transform itself into a mobility company, with automation as a key tool in their toolbox. After establishing one of the many pilot sites for slow-moving shuttles several years ago, this effort has now grown into a test of a full-size city bus in commercial operation on a short route in the city center. 

We recently had the chance to test ride this bus and were impressed by how it handled a complex environment with lots of vulnerable road users, roundabouts and narrow streets. That said, we also experienced a few hard breaks, which the operators explained as bugs being ironed out. 

The bus has one system operator and one safety driver on board, with the next planned step to combine these roles into one person. Eventually, the technology is expected to be applied on a Bus Rapid Transit route that is currently being designed.

The Oslo PTA, Ruter, is taking a different approach to introducing AVs. They eventually aim to replace privately owned cars in the Oslo region with up to 30,000 robotaxis by 2040. Ruter is currently performing a test with several on-demand Nio cars retrofitted with Mobileye’s AV equipment that are reported to have handled the tough Norwegian winter quite well.

The same vehicle and AV suppliers (Karsan and Adastec) as in Stavanger have also launched a similar test with a bus in Tampere, Finland

Further south in Europe, Luxembourg is known for offering free public transportation for both residents and visitors. This comes at a significant operational cost and in an effort to gradually remove drivers from vehicles, the local government has begun a partnership with tech company to put driverless vehicles on Luxembourg roads.

Sweden has also seen a lot of AV-related activity among our truck manufacturers lately. Scania just announced its first commercially available autonomous mining truck. Volvo Trucks, just days ago, showcased the first purpose-built heavy truck for automation in its partnership with Aurora, and Einride has announced an expansion of its planned operations of autonomous trucks through a deal in Dubai.

So not only has there been a lot of Northern lights in the skies lately, but there is also quite a lot of action on the Nordic AV scene.