The design, development and implementation of a Level 4 overall system in connection with a technical supervision require innovative solutions. This is how we at SAFESTREAM create the basis for driverless and economically attractive operation and thus a profitable alternative of mobility.

Germany has recognized the enormous potential of autonomous driving. The country is taking a leading role in this regard and has become a significant market for autonomous people movers. There are many automated shuttles operating nationwide, including in the Kelheim district and in Monheim am Rhein. However, these still require a safety attendant on board.

So far, there are neither Level 4 vehicles operating on public roads, nor a developed concept for a Level 4 overall system. In addition, Germany had no legal framework that allowed the transfer of first pilot projects of Level 4 operation from private land to public street space. With the removal of the safety attendant, however, fundamental technical challenges for operation on public roads arise, which are difficult to address without a legal construct. In contrast to Level 3 operations, vehicle guidance in Level 4 operations is no longer permanently monitored.

The in 2022 completed regulation on autonomous driving in Germany (AFGBV) now provides the necessary legal framework so that the living labs in Kelheim and Monheim am Rhein can be further developed for highly automated driving. Currently, the safety attendant is the last fallback level in Level 3 operation of automated vehicles. It embodies the interface to the passengers as well as to the system. With the omission of this fallback level, elementary questions arise for the safe operation of the entire system. We will answer these questions for the first time with SAFESTREAM.

Autonomous driving in public transport

With high automated driving, new mobility solutions arise. It is important to test these mobility solutions in real traffic – in different operational environments, road categories and traffic situations. Our goal is therefore also to integrate the Level 4 system technically and procedurally into the existing operation of public transport and to advance the necessary further developments. Kelheim and Monheim am Rhein represent two different test areas with different challenges. Furthermore, we can test our system in two different types of operation: line and on-demand operation.

Economic progress

Mobility is about to change. Autonomous driving in Level 4 can create new mobility offers that are economically viable. So far, autonomous driving operations need a safety attendant for each automated vehicle; hence, they have no added value compared to classic bus operations, since they are not more cost-effective to operate. The lack of profitability makes autonomous driving unappealing for cities and municipalities in the long term. The further development of Level 3 vehicles to Level 4 vehicles without a safety attendant is, therefore, a fundamental part of the economic viability.