The central challenges for the mobility of the future can already be identified today: while in Germany's sparsely populated rural areas, a classic scheduled public transport service cannot usually be maintained economically, densely populated urban areas are facing ever greater traffic problems. This trend will continue under the same circumstances.
One solution for the future can be found in autonomously operating minibuses in public transport with electric drive, which on the one hand can provide shuttle services in rural areas and on the other hand can represent an alternative to car ownership in cities (or to second or third cars in peripheral areas).
This project aims at identifying challenges and opportunities for urban transport and mobility (security) in rural areas associated with autonomous public transport minibuses from the point of view of customers, transport companies, municipalities and legislators. This means that the course can already be set today for a resource-saving and innovative, flexible mobility concept in dense and less densely populated areas and can be incorporated into long-term traffic and mobility planning. It is also an unavoidable adaptation to the changes caused, among other things, by demographic change in Germany.
The findings will be used for the transfer to concrete concepts and pilot projects for testing and the permanent operation of autonomous minibuses in public transport.
The tasks involved can be described as follows: the resulting requirements (transport and urban planning or spatial planning) must be worked out. Investigations must be carried out to determine which areas of operation are best covered by which network or operating forms. In addition to land development (by means of public transport shuttles) there will continue to be regular scheduled services between the centres in rural areas. It is therefore necessary to work out in which form these two mobility offers can be ideally combined with each other and which areas of application for autonomous minibuses in public transport are generally emerging (differentiated according to rural area, urban area and, if necessary, urban environment).
Since a demand-driven mode of transport is considered, the customer orders are carried out individually using ICT technologies (e. g. the smartphone). Therefore, it is necessary to examine how such a mobility platform must be set up and structured. Furthermore, the question of user acceptance arises in the sense of whether customers are prepared to use autonomous vehicles at all. In connection with this, it is necessary to discuss which behavioural changes can occur among the users and how their mobility behaviour or changes in mobility behaviour develop over the long term.