Two self-driving passenger vans that will be carrying passengers between Viru Square and the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) until the end of August arrived in Tallinn on Friday.
Bringing the two Easymile vehicles to Tallinn for one and a half months costs some €100,000, two thirds of which is covered by the private sector, Valdek Laur, adviser to the Estonian presidency of the EU Council on digital solutions, told BNS.
Since the buses will be driving along a tram line that is currently undergoing reconstruction, they will not operate beyond August, when there will be trams on the route again. Negotiations were going on with the owner of the vehicles to keep them on display in Tallinn until September, Laur added.
The buses will start carrying passengers in a few weeks, after passing an inspection of the Road Administration. The buses have a capacity of eight passengers.
On each bus there will be a person with a driver’s license who is responsible for the vehicle, and who is also the driver of the vehicle in the sense of the law, which still lists a driver as a requirement.
The presidency has described these people as the “presenters” of the buses.
The self-driving buses were brought to Estonia from France by logistics company DSV, and they will be operated here by developer of tracked military vehicles Milrem. The company will provide the presenters and be responsible for the technical condition of the buses.
Other financers of the project are Guardtime, Tallink, Microsoft Eesti, and the city of Tallinn.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications wants to boost the competencies of the state, the local universities, and businesses in the field of driverless vehicle technology to get ready for a potential broader implementation of the technology.
Since March this year the testing of self-driving vehicles classified as level SAE 2 or SAE 3 vehicles has been allowed on Estonian roads, provided that a person is assigned to the vehicle who can take control if needed.
Editor: Dario Cavegn