Four groups chosen for autonomous bus pilot program

Buses  credit: Shutterstock
Buses credit: Shutterstock

The Israeli government will fund half the cost of the two-year pilot program, expected to result in commercially operated autonomous bus lines.

The Ministry of Transport, the Israel Innovation Authority and Ayalon Highways today have announced that four consortia will carry out an autonomous bus pilot in Israel.

In the coming months the winning corporations are expected to begin a two-year pilot program operating autonomous buses, at an investment of NIS 61 million. Half the sum will from government funding. Upon completion of the program, the winning corporations are expected to operate the bus lines commercially using autonomous buses. As part of the pilot, the groups will operate independent public transport services on public roads, including transporting passengers, with approval from the Ministry of Transport's National Public Transport Authority.

The pilot program will be in two stages. During the first stage, the winning companies will run autonomous buses in a closed experimental area and in operational areas, with the aim of proving technological, regulatory, safety and business feasibility. In the second stage, the companies will operate autonomous bus lines on public roads, with a range that will increase during the two-year pilot period.

The Ministry of Transport says that the initiative is intended to help address one of the biggest challenges facing the State of Israel - traffic congestion - by streamlining public transportation, improving service and passenger experience, and improving safety levels. The initiative is also expected to help the state and the transport authorities cope with the problem of a lack of manpower and the serious shortage of drivers, by transitioning to a fleet of autonomous buses without a safety driver within a few years.

The winning companies are:

Metropolin (a large bus operator in Israel), B.G. Motors, Karsan (Turkey), Adastec (Michigan, USA), Applied Autonomy (Norway) and Ottopia (Israel). The technology companies in the group have experience with previous autonomous public transport pilots worldwide, including in Michigan, the US, and Norway.

Egged and a French technology company that has a vehicle in use in various environments in over 20 different countries.

Dan, Via (Israel), EasyMile (France), Enigmatos (Israel) and Ottopia (Israel). EasyMile, which will provide the autonomous vehicles, has proven global experience in running autonomous minibus services in urban areas.

Nateev Express and Imagry, an Israeli start-up company that is developing a software platform for autonomous driving. Imagry recently received funding from the Israel Innovation Authority for a pilot program running an autonomous, driverless shuttle at the Sheba Medical Center.

National Public Transport Authority director Ran Shadmi said, "We are pleased with the impressive response from public transport operators, who offered proposals in the framework of the call for proposals that was distributed with our partners at the Israel Innovation Authority and Ayalon Highways.

"There is still a long way to go but we have no doubt that this initiative has the potential to improve the service and the passenger experience on public transport and to improve safety levels. The initiative is also expected to help the state and the transport sector to cope with the problem of manpower and the serious shortage in drivers. We will continue to focus on these issues as part of the initiative and in our regular work."

Israel Innovation Authority chairperson Dr. Ami Appelbaum said, "The number of Israeli startups in the field of smart transportation has increased from 400 in 2016 to more than 600 in 2020. Also, since 2008, more than 20 of the biggest car manufacturers in the world and their suppliers have opened development centers in Israel, including GM, Honda, Volkswagen, Ford and more. By creating an advanced regulatory infrastructure that will allow the operation of driverless autonomous vehicles, and the activities of the four excellent groups in the framework of the call for proposals, the State of Israel is harnessing the autonomous vehicle to improve Israeli public transport, which will eventually turn Israel into a world leader in autonomous public transport pilots enabling Israeli companies to become global leaders in this sector."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on November 7, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Buses  credit: Shutterstock
Buses credit: Shutterstock
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