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Self-driving shuttle bus comes to Brussels campus
A self-driving shuttle bus is being set to work at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), ferrying staff, students and members of the public around its medical campus in Jette. As well as helping people get around the 32-hectare site, the idea is to study the possibilities for a wider application of self-driving vehicles in Brussels.
The Brussels Health Campus, which brings together VUB and the Brussels University Hospital (UZ Brussel), was chosen for the project because it allows the relationship between man and machine to be studied with a wide range of users.
“You not only have the VUB Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy and UZ Brussel on this campus, but also the Erasmus University College, a primary school, a daycare, a fitness centre and other campus users,” explained project co-ordinator Lieselot Vanhaverbeke.
This diverse group of people with very different movement patterns “makes it extremely suitable for our scientific research into the acceptance of different modes of transport, spatial planning, infrastructure improvements and technical developments,” she said.
The EZ10 electric bus (pictured), made by French company Easy Mile, uses sensors, cameras, GPS and signals from the road to recognise its route and the stops it has to make. These technologies also help it recognise obstacles or unexpected situations along the way.
In the first phase of the project, students and staff will use the 12-seat shuttle to make the three-minute journey between the student residences and the main building of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. This means that the bus will remain within the campus boundary.
A second phase, beginning in November, will involve a longer route connecting the car parks, bus stops and the hospital’s main entrance. This will involve using public roads and opens up the service to patients and hospital visitors.
Throughout the trial, a human operator will always be on board to deal with breakdowns or obstacles that the vehicle cannot handle itself.