16 Mar Autonomous driving – test drive with the robo-taxi
Together with AVL, VIRTUAL VEHICLE is testing autonomous driving in Graz on a route with major challenges, namely with increased pedestrian volumes in combination with public transport. With 69 partners, the project is considered the largest European research project to date in the field of testing automated vehicles. By reducing the number of cars and closing the gap in the first and last mile, automated mobility solutions offer a great opportunity to drive the transformation of urban mobility and thus contribute to sustainable urban transport.
For private individuals, autonomous driving offers many advantages. There is no need to own a car or have a driver’s license, and the long searching for a parking space has also come to an end. Above all, it can facilitate connections to and from public transport.
As an employee of VIRTUAL VEHICLE, I was allowed to be chauffeured by our Robo-Taxi on 14.03.2023.
Meeting point for the test drives was the final stop of the streetcar line 5 in Graz-Puntigam. I took a seat behind the safety driver and the car drove off in the direction of Center-West. During the drive, I did not notice whether the car was driving autonomously or was controlled by the driver himself.
Sensors attached to the roof of the car detected the surroundings within a radius of 100 meters and this environment was visually displayed on the monitor in the center of the cockpit. The vehicle also recognized the difference between people and vehicles, for example.
The car drove slowly and braked early and calmly in front of obstacles, which gave me a feeling of safety and comfort. At high-risk locations, such as intersections, the driver had to confirm to the system via touchscreen that it was safe to cross – an added safety feature of this test drive. So the driver was only there for safety.
All in all, it was a great experience and I could imagine using this service in the future. However, it will be some time before autonomous vehicles can be integrated into our everyday lives. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see what research develops in the meantime.
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