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Das automatisierte HEAT-Fahrzeug biegt in der Speicherstadt ab

The HEAT project

The future is self-driving


As trailblazers in the City, we aim to keep Hamburg moving in ever more flexible ways. That’s what we did 100 years ago with the first U-Bahn, today it’s with electrobuses. And tomorrow? We are still boldly taking up the challenge. That’s why we ran trials of the new self-driving technology in our research and development project HEAT (Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation) from 2019 to October 2021.

The idea: together with our partners from business and science, HOCHBAHN investigated whether self-driving minibuses might be a useful complement to the public transport options in future. For instance where it doesn’t make economic sense to operate full-size vehicles – in the suburbs or at off-peak times.   

Automated travel with passengers – at the ITS World Congress too

The project was among the first worldwide to realize driverless operation in public transport on a defined route with a vehicle assistant who doesn’t actually drive. Passengers were able to take a seat on board for the first time in October 2020 for an automated ride through the HafenCity at speeds up to 25 km/h. From summer 2021 up to the completion of the project, HEAT ran with passengers on the final route of 1.8 kilometres with five stops. The project was accompanied by a whole range of passenger surveys. These aimed to record accurately the needs people had when using a self-driving transport system, but also possible barriers to its acceptance.   

As one of the highlights of the project, HEAT was also presented to a global public at the ITS World Congress on smart mobility in Hamburg in October 2021.