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Schaeffler and VDL Groep to team up on self-driving shuttles

Schaeffler and VDL Groep are jointly exploring the development and production of a new generation of self-driving shuttles for public transport. The two will be showcasing a first demonstrator as well as all relevant automotive electrification and steering technology at the IAA Mobility show in Munich.


Impression of the autonomous driving shuttle vehicle that Schaeffler and VDL Groep plan to develop and produce together. Photo: VDL Groep, Schaeffler

The initiators intend to bring together their technological competencies and expertise in systems engineering, development, production, and public transport. For this progressive and innovative mobility concept, Schaeffler and VDL Groep will cooperate with Mobileye who will provide the shuttle vehicles with autonomous driving systems.

Schaeffler and VDL Groep autonomous shuttle specifications:

  • Seats: nine seats (six seats fixed, three seats flexible)

  • Payload: around 1,000 kg

  • Dimensions: 5 meters long, 2.2 meters wide, 2.8 meters high, weighing about 5,000 kg

  • Indoor monitoring system in direct contact to a control room

  • Two deeply integrated independent sensing systems: one camera-based and one radar or lidar-based

  • Large doors and low entry step, wheelchair accessible

  • Maximum speed: 70 km/hour

  • Range: more than 350 km per day, and more than 100 km on one battery charge

The two partners are currently in advanced negotiations with public transport authorities and operators to start pilot projects. According to the roadmap, testing for the vehicles on the streets will most likely be possible starting in 2025.

Demand for self-driving shuttle services is expected to take off in the coming years, especially in many major cities in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia by the end of this century. The envisaged strategic cooperation between Schaeffler and VDL underlines the importance of getting involved in these developments at an early stage. Together, both companies aim to accelerate the development of shuttle vehicles that can be manufactured on a commercial scale.

VDL Groep leads the way as an innovator in areas such as bus and car manufacturing and is the European frontrunner in the electrification of heavy duty vehicles. Schaeffler is a worldwide leading automotive supplier of systems and components for electrified powertrains as well as innovative steering systems. The company has introduced a rolling chassis, which combines a fully electric powertrain, steer-by-wire system, and battery in a modular solution.

The Mobileye Drive platform designed for shuttle vehicles enables autonomous driving using purpose-built EyeQ processors, redundant sensor systems of surround cameras, and lidar or radar sensing, as well as mapping solutions.

Germany is planned to be the first country where the newly developed and manufactured shuttles will operate, benefitting from the fact of being the first country in Europe which approved SAE level 4 for use on public roads.

Schaeffler and VDL intend to develop and build the shuttles for public transport operators who will be operating the vehicles within a comprehensive ecosystem. The companies have already started negotiations with operators to acquire pilot projects with the intention to prove the concept and to set up a scalable ecosystem with open interfaces. The target production volumes will depend on achievable sales, but they are projected to produce some thousands of vehicles per year starting in 2030. Production is planned to take place at VDL’s Mobility Innovation Centre in Born (Netherlands).


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