Project HEAT

HOCHBAHN research project on driverless minibuses


HEAT is a research and development project that is unique in Germany to date: This year, HOCHBAHN plans to use electrically automated minibuses - then a vehicle attendant who can intervene at any time - to cross the roads in test mode the HafenCity. "Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation", or HEAT for short, is the name of the HOCHBAHN project with well-known partners, including companies from the German industry. It is part of the urban strategy for intelligent transport systems (ITS) in the field of action "Automated and Connected Driving.


HEAT Hamburg
Five meters long and electrically powered: this is the vehicle for our HEAT project in HafenCity. From mid-2020, passengers will also have the opportunity to be on board. © HOCHBAHN
The HafenCity: In the red-marked area, the automated minibus will be on the move in the first step.


The future is autonomous, experts from business, science and politics are sure. However, it is not yet possible to say when there will be vehicles ready for series production. As a pioneer of mobility for Hamburg, HOCHBAHN wants to actively participate in the development right from the start.


At this point we keep you informed with news, background and facts about the project.


Questions and answers about HEAT

This research and development project is intended to show during the test period up to 2021 that electrically driven driverless minibuses can be used safely in urban road traffic with passengers. The project is one of the first in the world to implement autonomous driving in public road transport. In addition to the specific technical equipment on and in the vehicle, comprehensive equipment for the test track is provided by means of sensors and digital route communication, as well as monitoring by the HOCHBAHN control centre.

In 2021, HEAT is to be a central flagship project within the framework of the ITS World Congress in Hamburg.

HOCHBAHN is developing intelligent and sustainable mobility of tomorrow for Hamburg. That is why we are examining the possibilities of autonomous driving in order to make the offer for customers even more flexible, even more tailored to their needs. Autonomous driving is a serious new technology that has the potential to change the mobility market decisively and permanently - and to ensure greater safety on the roads overall.

In order to prepare for these possible changes, we are dealing with this technology as part of a research and development project. We get to know them in stages in order to evaluate them and, if necessary, to make them usable for our business and our passengers.

Heat sensores

Autonomous driving is made possible by three components:

  • Components in and on the vehicle such as cameras, radar and lidar, as well as high-precision map material
  • Out-of-vehicle infrastructure: active and passive sensors and digital communication systems on the track
  • Additional monitoring by the HOCHBAHN control centre

From mid-2020, interested parties will have the opportunity to experience automated driving in Hamburg as part of the research and development project. For this purpose, they are briefly introduced into the characteristics of the vehicle and its equipment and supervised by a vehicle attendant. Interested parties can already contact us at

Originally, the operation with passengers was to be completed as early as the beginning of 2020. Due to a longer approval process and delays in the construction of the infrastructure, which can naturally arise as part of such a research project, we now want to welcome Hamburg on board the HEAT vehicle in the summer of 2020.

The automated minibus will travel along a 1.8-kilometre route in the HafenCity. It will run to five stops (three existing and two newly established). The route in HafenCity was chosen as it was considered suitable for achieving the project's objectives. The electrical supply takes place on the Wärme Hamburg site in the HafenCity. The carports for HEAT are set up there. Originally, a longer test track was planned. Due to construction work for a new shopping centre, the route has been shortened without any impact on the research and development project.

  • DLR: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Centre), Institute for Transport Systems Engineering: Carrying out accompanying research
  • BWVI: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg), Traffic planning by LSBG, integration of complete system light signal systems by HHVA, securing legal requirements by the Authority for Home Affairs and Sport
  • hySOLUTIONS: Takes care of all questions and tasks relating to the topic of electromobility, the monitoring of success and the professional and administrative coordination with the donor
  • IAV: Ingenieursgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr (Engineering company “Auto und Verkehr”), Vehicle design and development
  • IKEM: Institut für Klimaschutz, Energie und Mobilität (Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility), Investigation of new operating and business models, legal support for permits and approvals
  • Siemens Mobility GmbH: Road-side infrastructure, safety and traffic efficiency
© Hamburger Hochbahn AG 2020