The CAMIL project initiated by the Ilm district lasted just over a year from the submission of the grant application to the local transport company Ilmenau IOV to the commencement of regular services. The partners Ilm-Kreis, the city of Ilmenau and the Ilmenau University of Technology commissioned professional, in some cases market-leading, international institutions: the Potsdam-based autoBus office, specialists in the implementation of automated vehicles in public transport, took care of the planning; The Turin Mobility Innovation Center, based at TU Ilmenau, researched and developed innovative radio and car technologies – in the laboratory and on the streets of Ilmenau; and the French manufacturer EasyMile, which develops transport solutions for autonomous passenger and freight transport, supplied the EZ10, the world’s most used unmanned shuttle.
The buses were presented to the public today (September 15, 2022) at TU Ilmenau during the official kick-off event of the Mobility Forum of Thuringia. The Minister of Economy, Science and Digital Society of Thuringia Wolfgang Tiefensee spoke of CAMIL as a project that is very concrete and easy to manage: in a practical way and in this way we involve people. The Free State of Thuringia will do whatever you can imagine to ensure that we support and develop such projects and thus extend our pioneering position in the mobility sector with new ideas and new technologies. ”
President of TU Ilmenau, prof. Kai-Uwe Sattler made clear the benefits of the project’s research: “CAMIL is also a research project: it is about artificial intelligence, drive technology, electronics and radio technology. And it’s also about social science research, how people think about CAMIL and how the media reports it. After all, what is the use of the best innovation if people don’t accept technology because they don’t trust it? “
The mayor of Ilmenau, Daniel Schultheiss, sees the benefits of the CAMIL project for the future: “We lead research out of laboratories and make technology tangible to people on the street. And we enable the transport company IOV to gain valuable experience with new technology. Thanks to this, we are able to meet the challenges of developing local public transport. “
Ilm County Governor Petra Enders sees the development of autonomous local transport in the region not only on the route between the Ilmenau train station and the Ilmenau University of Technology campus: “I can imagine local public transport becoming even more attractive if autonomous driving is extended to the entire district . I would like a lot, a lot of people to use the bus and then, after the end of the project, you could say: the project was successful and we will continue it in other parts of the district.
The EasyMile EZ10 Generation 3 minibus is approved for six passengers and the automatic electric boarding ramp provides barrier-free access. Electrically operated and only a good four meters long and almost two meters wide, the bus is environmentally friendly and quiet. The maximum permitted speed on public roads is 18 kilometers per hour. To ensure the safe operation of driverless buses – there is only one operator on board in the event of an accident – they are equipped with optical sensors to measure distance and speed. The so-called odometry system continuously records the position and orientation and thus the navigation of the buses. The redundant brake system ensures a quick and safe stop in the event of a breakdown. Additionally, equipped with radar sensors, mobile radio modules and computers developed by the Turin Center for Mobility Innovation, the EZ10 follows an electronically measured route. Safe driving is also guaranteed by rain, snow and fog at temperatures from minus 15 to plus 45 degrees Celsius.
The plan is for both minibuses to run regularly in Ilmenau in the fall and connect the train station to the TU Ilmenau campus in a shuttle service. The bus route starts at the rear of the train station on the other side of the tracks on the Neuhäuser Weg. Before the Nelson Mandela Bridge, it turns right and goes through Ehrenbergstraße, where the first stop will be near the technology and start-up center. The route continues past the Ernst Abbe Center and student dormitories, in front of the Ehrenberg canteen an existing bus stop is used as a second stop. After another stop at the university library, the last stop is at the Helmholtzplatz in front of the Kirchhoff building, near Audimax. On the way back, to avoid turning maneuvers, the route takes a short distance from Ehrenbergstraße along the Langewiesener Straße back to Neuhäuser Weg. A possible extension of the route in the future may lead from Gustav-Kirchhoff-Strasse via Am Ehrenberg Strasse around the vocational school center.
At the end of 2019, the district of Ilm commissioned a preliminary feasibility study for a pilot project, 50 percent of which Thuringia’s Ministry of the Environment suffered. The relevant routes were checked for their technical and legal feasibility, and a route from Ilmenau train station to the university campus was recommended. IOV Omnibusverkehr GmbH Ilmenau, which operates CAMIL vehicles, was supported by Ilm-Kreis in 2020 with a grant of € 289,000 to finance the investments necessary for the project. Also in the future, from 2022 to 2024, Ilm-Kreis will support the implementation with an annual operating subsidy to the IOV of € 150,000. The project is financed by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation of Thuringia with EUR 796,000 for two and a half years.
Even after the buses are put into operation, scientists from the Turin Mobility Innovation Center will continue to conduct accompanying research during regular operation to further develop innovative propulsion and radio technologies and ride comfort. Ilmenau University of Technology is also continuing research on the acceptance of autonomous buses among the general public and the media. The accompanying research is funded by the Thuringian Ministry of Economy, Science and Digital Society with an amount of around two million euros over three years.
Closely related projects are an important step in the development of intelligent, sustainable and user-oriented transport in the Ilm district. The city of Ilmenau and the Innovation Center for Mobility in Thuringia are already working on the use of even more automated buses.
More information: www.camil-ilmenau.de.