Germany Launches Fully Autonomous Self-Driving Taxi Transit Trial

The autonomous vehicles initially being tested are self-driving taxis fitted with the Mobileye Drive autonomous driving system

Graham Hope

July 1, 2024

2 Min Read

Germany’s first trial of Level 4 autonomous vehicles for public transport is underway.

The KIRA project is taking place in the Rhine-Main region, in the city of Darmstadt and in the western part of the Offenbach district, and initially will see six autonomous vehicles (AVs) tested on defined routes in public roads.

Ultimately, the hope is that it can pave the way for an autonomous on-demand shuttle service in the region.

The AVs initially being tested are self-driving taxis in the form of NIO ES8 SUVs fitted with the Mobileye Drive autonomous driving system. Coincidentally, this is the same tech that will feature in the Rimac-backed Verve robotaxi that was announced a matter of days ago and is being planned for launch in Zagreb, Croatia in 2026.

The NIO ES8s are also equipped with radar and lidar sensors, and can drive autonomously at normal speeds of up to 81 mph. The EV has a range of approximately 249 miles and will be able to seat three passengers in the KIRA trial.

However, initially at least, the ES8s will have no passengers on board and instead focus on collecting data. The cars will drive themselves, with a safety monitor behind the wheel and will also be supervised remotely at a control center.

In time, project staff members will ride as passengers, mirroring the methods used by Waymo in San Francisco, for example. These will be followed by approved users, similar to Waymo’s “trusted testers,” who will be able to order the AVs by app.

Related:Hypercar Company Reveals Self-Driving Taxi to Take on Tesla

This phase of the project will be used to gather feedback and put guidelines in place for the launch of a service for customers and is scheduled to last until the end of 2024.

Also involved in the project are Bosch, tech firm ioki, which will provide the software for booking and route planning, and state transport provider Deutsche Bahn, plus the Rhine-Main Regional Transport Association (RMV).

Backing to the tune of $2.3 million has come from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport and the German State of Hesse.

Deutsche-Bahn hailed the importance of the project, saying: “Autonomous on-demand driving services can make public transport more flexible and attractive. Shuttles that can be ordered on demand can provide nationwide mobility, especially in rural areas. 

“On-demand shuttles with drivers are already on the road in ten areas at RMV. Autonomous services can also be used nationwide in the future. An intelligent linking of different means of transport should enable seamless mobility from door to door that is as flexible as your own car.”

Related:Tesla Competitor Mobileye Testing Robotaxi in Michigan

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

Sign Up for the Newsletter
The most up-to-date news and insights into the latest emerging technologies ... delivered right to your inbox!

You May Also Like