Autovabaduse (car free in English) Avenue
Freedom for Iseauto
Estonian cities keep improving the infrastructure for the autonomous shuttles and this time the city of Tartu welcomed Iseauto at one of its main avenues to see what can be done for implementing the autonomous solutions in the city’s framework.
For two weeks Vabaduse Avenue (Freedom Avenue) was renamed Autovabaduse Avenue which can be translated as Car Freedom Avenue. The freedom remained restricted but Iseauto could be used on the avenue more freely in the mixed traffic than usual.
During operations in the city center of Tartu at Autovabaduse (car free in English) Avenue, the maximum allowed speed was reduced to 20 km/h, and this rule applied to all vehicles entering the route we were teleoperating.
Auve Tech were not assigned a special lane so were regular participants in the traffic. The route was 500 m long and it was a straight line without any turns and there were no traffic lights. The operations were scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 6 days a week except for Monday. The passengers were not charged for the services.
The complexity of the environment
We did not have to arrange any special bus stops since we were allowed to use the public stops. The first stop was Raeplats (Town Hall Square) across from the parking where people were leaving the cars to enjoy the architecture of the Old Town or visit Tartu Art Museum. The second stop was across the street at the entrance to the parking. The last was Palmihoone not far away from school and many other museums.
The weather conditions
Autovabaduse case study went well and the weather was not affecting teleoperations.
The yield signs were an issue as well as speeding vehicles. Our operator is experienced and expected this kind of behavior from other drivers so the 2 busy weeks passed safely.
Apart from expected challenges, there were a few that we were not prepared for: construction works and cyclists. Tartu is known for its sports events and many cyclists used Vabaduse Avenue, nevertheless, we avoided all incidents.
About 500 people have used the last-mile solution not as alternative transportation but as free entertainment so we want to improve the image of self-driving public transportation and get the recognition of the passengers that the future needs autonomous vehicles and Iseauto in particular.