Spare to power Europe’s first autonomous on-demand bus project

Feb. 11, 2020
Spare’s consortium SAGA introduces a TaaS platform, combining AV and human-driven vehicles.

A hybrid autonomous and human-driven public transit service in Norway and Netherlands will be operated by Spare and its joint Canadian/Norwegian consortium, SAGA.

After going through a design and prototyping phase in 2019, SAGA was selected as one of the final three consortia to pilot autonomous transit services in Norway, Netherlands, Finland, Greece and Estonia between April and October 2020.

SAGA is rolling out a turnkey Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) platform, combining both autonomous and human-driven vehicles. SAGA’s TaaS platform includes all aspects of launching a publicly accessible autonomous vehicle service, including service design, autonomous vehicle management and fleet routing. Using this platform, multiple automated and human-driven vehicles can be integrated into a larger public transport system, all over an open API. The SAGA TaaS platform contains everything one needs in order to set up a hybrid human-driven autonomous vehicle service, with the freedom of mixing autonomous vehicles from any manufacturer.

SAGA will roll out the TaaS platform in Norway and Helmond between May and October 2020.  SAGA will operate up to three vehicles in each location, with both autonomous and human-driven vehicles. Part of SAGA’s core focus will also be how to operate “human-centered” autonomous transportation systems, running user acceptance studies in order to create an experience of safety and comfort.

SAGA has been made possible by the EU-funded FABULOS (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation Systems) project. FABULOS focuses on how cities can use automated buses in a systematic way to seamlessly integrate autonomous technology into the transit experience. The project’s goal is to create an operational model for an autonomous mass transit service that demonstrates an economic, technical, societal and legal maturity that can be applied to future autonomous fleets as part of a public transportation system. The fleet is expected to drive in mixed traffic at urban speeds in nearly all-weather conditions, without a driver on board. Self-driving vehicles have already been tested in technical demonstrations in various countries, but a proof-of-concept for the management of autonomous fleets as part of public transit has not yet been demonstrated, according to the company.