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September 5, 2023
German company Schaeffler and the Netherlands’ VDL Groep are teaming up to develop a new electric, autonomous shuttle for use as public transport.
And the pair has chosen the IAA Mobility Show in Munich, Germany, to shed more light on their plans, as well as display a first demonstrator model.
The new shuttle will feature autonomous driving tech from Israel’s Mobileye, and is being developed to deliver Level 4 functionality, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. That means it will be in full control of the driving in specific locations.
Each of the companies involved in the project brings expertise in different areas.
Schaeffler, based in Herzogenaurach, is one of the world’s leading automotive parts suppliers for electrified powertrains and steering systems and has developed a chassis for the project.
VDL Groep, from Eindhoven, is one of Europe’s foremost bus manufacturers and has extensive experience in electrification in heavy-duty vehicles.
And Mobileye, based in Jerusalem, has established itself as one of the leading providers of autonomous driving tech solutions across the world. Its Mobileye Drive platform for shuttles uses purpose-built EyeQ processors, plus cameras, lidar, radar and mapping systems.
The new shuttle is 16.4 feet long, 6.6 feet wide and 9.2 feet high and can seat nine people, with six fixed seats and three flexible ones. Maximum speed is claimed to be 43 mph and there’s a range of 62 miles on one charge, with 217 miles possible in one day.
Large doors and a low ramp will make wheelchair entry easy, and remote monitoring will be possible at all times.
Public testing is targeted to get underway in 2025, with Germany likely to be the first market where the shuttle is made commercially available. The companies say they are already in discussion with public transport operators regarding the launch of potential pilots.
Ultimately it is hoped that thousands of vehicles will be in production by 2030 at VDL’s facility in Born in the Netherlands.
“Self-driving shuttles will become integral elements of modern mobility ecosystems,” Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler, said. “We at Schaeffler want to support this development with best-in-class systems engineering as well as innovative automotive technology.”
Willem van der Leegte, president and CEO of VDL Groep, added: “This vehicle concept fits seamlessly into our broad mobility solution covering design, electrification, connectivity, autonomy and services.”
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