The electric buses are part of a feasibility study for broader service rollout

Graham Hope

March 30, 2024

2 Min Read
An Ohmio self-driving bus.
Ohmio

One of the world’s busiest airports is conducting a trial of electric self-driving buses.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, which handled more than 60 million passengers in 2023, is currently operating two electric autonomous buses airside as part of a feasibility study to see if the service can be rolled out more broadly.

The buses, made by Ohmio, a company based in Auckland, New Zealand, are being used to transport employees of cleaning and ground handling companies, and are following a fixed route. The initial assessment is focused on integrating the buses into the airport infrastructure.

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As such, the buses are operating alongside other airport traffic, picking up and dropping off passengers at specific points on the route, which typically takes five minutes to complete.

Paul Groot, who is managing the project, explained: “The autonomous driving works via GPS coordinates. The buses start at the staff passageway to airside. They then drive to the cleaning services, offices and towing service.”

While the Ohmio LIFT bus can accommodate up to 20 people, at Schiphol capacity is limited to eight, who all have to be seated. Cameras monitor the bus’s surroundings at all times, allowing it to stop automatically when there are any obstructions, and although it drives itself, a safety operator is on board to intervene if necessary.

Related:Self-Driving Bus Services Launching in UK City

The trial will continue until the end of April, but feedback so far has been positive, with the service being considered both safe and a positive experience, and 89% of users indicating that they would be willing to use it again.

And that’s good news for Schiphol’s operator, which is moving ahead with plans to overhaul transport facilities at the airport over the next two decades.

As Jan Zekveld, head of innovation at the Royal Schiphol Group, explained: “This trial represents another step towards our ambition of having an emission-free and autonomous ground operation by 2050. The knowledge and insights gained during this test period are of significant added value to future autonomous developments at Schiphol.”

Ohmio is a subsidiary of HMI Technologies, another Auckland-based company, which is focused on intelligent transport systems and developed the tech used in the buses. 

It aims to work in tandem with the likes of universities, local authorities and airports to evolve transport systems and has previously showcased the capability of the LIFT shuttle in an autonomous platooning demo at JFK Airport in New York.

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.

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