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Autonomous buses shut down after accident in Vienna (2019)

Autonomous buses shut down after an accident
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I Two autonomous electric buses are on the road in Vienna's Seestadt Aspern district. The Arma DL4 minibuses creep at a speed of twelve km /h over a previously taught-in route, meter by meter. For safety reasons, a so-called operator is always on board to monitor the journey. Despite all the slowness and surveillance, there has now been a minor accident.

A woman around 30 years old ran sideways into one of the autonomous buses. In the accident, she suffered minor injuries in the form of abrasions. According to the municipal transport company Wiener Linien, the woman was wearing headphones and looking at her smartphone while she collided with the side of the bus.

Wiener Linien GmbH
The Navya Arma DL4 drives at around twelve km /h through Vienna's city traffic.

Checking technical failure

The authorities are now investigating the accident, the French bus manufacturer Navya has been informed and has already received data from the bus involved in the accident. Wiener Linien expect a quick evaluation of the data and the resulting suggestions for improvement. After all, the buses are equipped with sensors all around, which should cause the bus to evade or stop after recognizing obstacles. Apparently those responsible fear that the bus would not have been able to perceive obstacles approaching from other directions.

Wiener Linien GmbH
Modern display: On the timetable of the test bus line, those waiting can see where the bus is.

Possibly only partially autonomous skills

The municipality of Koppl, located in the Austrian state of Salzburg, has already tested the Arma DL4 and is disappointed: Its actual capabilities are far below the manufacturer's specifications. The bus could stop in front of obstacles, but not avoid them - the manufacturer Navya had promised this ability. The bus was also unable to turn left on its own; the operator had to intervene here. Even the announced performance fell far short of expectations. Although Navya sells the Arma DL4 models as fully autonomous according to level 5, experts at the municipality of Koppl believe that the bus can only manage partially autonomous driving according to level 3.

The test operation of the two autonomous electric buses in Vienna is expected continue until 2020. During this time, up to 15 passengers per bus can use a stop system around the Seestadt underground station free of charge - Seestadt is a modern district that is still under construction. When the test passenger operation will start again is open.


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