With a total budget of nearly 5.5 million Euro (incl. VAT) for supplying companies, the FABULOS buyers group will purchase R&D for a turn-key solution that answers to the common challenge: the design, development and testing of smart systems that are capable of operating a fleet of self-driving minibuses in urban environments. This means, providing a financial grant to companies to develop an all-inclusive turnkey solution for the operations of an autonomous bus line, i.e. software, hardware, fleet and services. A solution, too, that can be tested and validated on a large-scale inside cities.

The proposed grant breaks down to the following amounts

Expected number of suppliers Budget per supplier

excl. VAT (indication)

Duration of phase
Phase 1 (feasibility study): 12 € 28,800 3 months
Phase 2 (prototyping): 6 € 251,600 6 months
Phase 3 (field testing): 4 € 570,000 6 months

Although other use cases are certainly imaginable and not excluded, it is likely that the proposed solution mainly caters to “last mile” transport. The ends and gaps of the mobility chain, usually spanning over lengths of 0,5 – 2 km, is traditionally the most expensive part to cover with public transportation. This part of the mobility chain is often called “last mile” and with automated on-demand systems, this last mile could be covered with public transportation. Last (and first) mile play a key role when it comes to the reachability of public transport trunk network, since that is the psychologically most challenging part of the mobility chain for the passenger – without proper last/first mile solutions, the demand for passenger cars will remain high.

However, some parts of the driving automation need to reach a more mature stage in their development in order to be employable in normal urban settings. Currently, main problems and barriers faced are:

  • Dealing with obstacles and extraordinary traffic situations, like roadworks;
  • Rigidity of the localization reference mapping, changes in surrounding infrastructure causes the need for remapping of the environment and possibly re-routing of the trajectory;
  • Operator/driver has to still be physically inside the vehicle because of the lack of necessary remote supervision and control of the vehicle;
  • Lack of speed to be able to be a real part of traffic;
  • Driving in irregular weather conditions like snow, fog or heavy rain and other environmental issues, such as dust and fallen leaves;
  • Communication with traffic light installations and other infrastructure;
  • Interaction with and anticipation of other traffic;
  • Economic feasibility of the operations of a fleet of automated minibuses is not proven;
  • Lack of a suitable legal framework in some European countries;
  • Inability to be fully integrated into the public transportation ecosystem.

The overarching goal is to support the creation of a properly functioning system that can operate an entire fleet of self-driving minibuses as part of the public transport system in a city. Maximum interoperability with the existing public transport is required. Scalability of solutions is critical to the success of smart cities and the service companies.