Author: Viktor Gröll
Germany's first autonomous minibus has been running here at the rural spa since 25 October and is operated by Deutsche Bahn.
The spa resort, Bad Birnbach, is located in the picturesque, gentle meadows of the Rott and the Rottaler Hügelland; it is best known throughout the German-speaking region as a "rural spa". Many innovations, especially in the field of spa medicine and rural development, originated here. Together with the district of Rottal-Inn, which has taken the lead, the health resort is now writing an important chapter in the history of local public transport. The first independent bus has been in public use since October 2017. Those in-charge in the district and the market community were in contact with developers from Deutsche Bahn, Regionalbus Ostbayern and the French company "easy mile" for months in order to implement the project. Bad Birnbach has proved to be the ideal place for the test operation. The local train station is about one and a half kilometres from the town centre. The Rottalbahn serves Bad Birnbach every hour. the independent bus means that all arriving and departing train can be reached comfortably this year - the "last mile" to the village is now covered. Then, along with New Market Square, Artrium and Rottal Terme, a new stop will be served at the station in Leiten. Since local public transport plays just as important a role in the development concepts of the district and the market community as e-mobility, a coherent picture quickly emerged for all those involved.
The operation in Bad Birnbach was subjected to a month-long field test on a company premises in Leipzig. The necessary experience was gained here. The buses can currently carry up to 6 people simultaneously, they are barrier-free and accessible for the handicapped. Safety is always our top priority. Thus, for the time being, the speed will be limited to 15 km/h. The bus is also equipped with a large number of sensors. GPS and positioning systems ensure the safety of passengers and other road users. The route to be driven is precisely programmed and "learned" by the buses. In addition, during the pilot phase, there are escorts on board who can intervene at any time.