Testing autonomous transport

Meet Olli: the self-driving minibus

Amsterdam traffic is getting out of control. This leads to congestion and bottlenecks on the capital’s roads, reducing air quality and quality of life in the city. Is autonomous public transport a solution for the city? Olli – a self-driving minibus – is being tested on and around Marineterrein Amsterdam, ferrying visitors from A to B at the restricted-traffic site.

Meet Olli: the self-driving minibus

Amsterdam traffic is getting out of control. This leads to congestion and bottlenecks on the capital’s roads, reducing air quality and quality of life in the city. Is autonomous public transport a solution for the city? Olli – a self-driving minibus – is being tested on and around Marineterrein Amsterdam, ferrying visitors from A to B at the restricted-traffic site.

  • Short

    Olli is a fully electric, self-driving minibus that can carry up to eight passengers per trip. Using a smart sensor on the roof, Olli continuously scans its surroundings, allowing it to respond to changing traffic situations and learn from them.

    Developments in flexible and collective transport solutions such as Olli could help to keep the city accessible and use the space available as optimally as possible. Olli runs around and just outside Marineterrein Amsterdam as part of a test to see whether autonomous vehicles can work in the city. What are the effects on traffic safety? How does Olli respond to other road users? And to what extent can Olli compete with existing means of transport?

    In addition, we are investigating the effect that self-driving transport has on local residents. Would people be comfortable travelling in a self-driving bus? Would certain groups of the population – such as people with disabilities, the elderly, and children – find it particularly beneficial? It’s important for this test to provoke a discussion about the use and benefits of autonomous transport. That is why we are organizing discussion sessions between experts and residents during the test period about what we want to learn from the testing and how this type of transport can work to our advantage.

  • Facts

    • Autonomous (self-driving)
    • Fully electric
    • Space for eight passengers
    • Designed by American firm Local Motors
    • LIDAR sensor that scans the environment
    • Artificial intelligence – Olli can recommend a café, answer questions, and even tell a joke
    • Adaptable to specific user needs, such as people with disabilities
    • Testing lasts for three months
    • Runs from the bus stop near the main entrance of the Marineterrein on Kattenburgerstraat to the tram stop near the Bimhuis on Piet Heinkade.

  • Info

    The testing is a joint venture between AMS Institute, GVB, Municipality of Amsterdam, Province of North Holland, Amsterdam Transport Authority, and Bureau Marineterrein Amsterdam.

    In 2016, the municipality of Amsterdam conducted research into the potential impact of autonomous transport in the city. It concluded that Amsterdam should test this kind of self-driving vehicle to gain experience in applying it and to discover the potential benefits and pitfalls. The purpose of the test with Olli on Marineterrein Amsterdam is to do exactly that, and to learn from the results, which could lead to Olli also being rolled out in other urban areas and allow further research to be done. Can autonomous transport offer a solution to increasing traffic? Could a self-driving bus deliver packages? How do residents feel about this type of vehicle?

    Marineterrein Amsterdam is a privately-owned site that is open to the public, but subject to bylaws and restricted traffic, making it the ideal testing ground for this autonomous, self-driving form of transport. With little traffic around and site rules that apply in addition to the normal rules for each public space, the Marineterrein provides optimal conditions to make the testing as safe and efficient as possible.

    Test phases
    Testing with Olli has yet to actually start. But now that the contract has been signed, the starting gun has been fired. The testing is broken down into the following stages:

    • October 2019: Contract signed by the cooperating parties
    • First half of 2020: Inspection and final approval by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW)
    • Olli will then enter into operation after final approval is received

Starting shot fired in building 001

  • The cooperating parties came together on 24 October 2019 in building 001 (the Commandantswoning) on Marineterrein Amsterdam to officially fire the starting shot for testing with Olli. Now that the contract has been signed, the first step has been taken towards autonomous transport on the Marineterrein.

    The cooperating parties came together on 24 October 2019 in building 001 (the Commandantswoning) on Marineterrein Amsterdam to officially fire the starting shot for testing with Olli. Now that the contract has been signed, the first step has been taken towards autonomous transport on the Marineterrein.