HOLON and Hamburg’s Hochbahn AG cooperate on autonomous driving

Paderborn/Hamburg, November 16, 2022. HOLON, the specialist in autonomous shuttle vehicles, and Hamburg’s Hochbahn AG (HOCHBAHN), Germany's second-largest public transport company, plan to jointly push forward the expansion of customer-friendly and climate-friendly mobility services. For this, the companies have agreed a memorandum of understanding for the further development of autonomous shuttles for use in public transport.

The core of the new partnership is to create innovative solutions for autonomous on-demand systems in public transport. HOLON and HOCHBAHN aim to develop and test the operation of an autonomous mobility service under real conditions in a pilot area on public roads. The aim is also to raise the general perception of autonomous vehicles on the roads and thus their acceptance by road users and passengers.

HOLON, an independent company of the BENTELER Group, is a manufacturer of autonomous movers. Together with its partners, the company is developing a homologated, fully electric, and autonomous shuttle for use on public roads. The accessible vehicle is equipped with an automated ramp, a secure wheelchair space and auditory and visual support. It will make its world debut in January at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. The cooperation with HOCHBAHN is the first project for HOLON in Germany. On Hamburg's roads, the vehicle could, for the first-time drive in 2024.

Marco Kollmeier, Managing Director of HOLON, explains: “Our joint goal is to make urban mobility more sustainable, safe, and inclusive through the use of autonomous movers. Affordable and robust shuttles will therefore play an essential role in the public transport of the future. With HOCHBAHN, we have a strong and committed partner to test and actively shape this future in Hamburg's urban transport.”

The cooperation will begin in the coming year with the perspective of contributing to fulfilling the “Hamburg-Takt” initiative in the long term. By 2030, every Hamburg resident should be within five minutes of access to a public mobility service from morning to evening. Autonomous on-demand services are expected to make a significant contribution to this.

Henrik Falk, Chairman of the Executive Board of HOCHBAHN: “Autonomous on-demand services will help shape the mobility of the future and play an important role in Hamburg-Takt. With this cooperation, we want to take a decisive step toward the use of such vehicles in local public transport. With HOLON, we have a very strong partner for this.”

HOCHBAHN already has experience in the innovative field of autonomous driving gained from the HEAT (Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation) research and development project. This ran from 2019 to October 2021 and tested whether autonomously driving minibuses could supplement public transport in the future. For example, where the use of full-size vehicles isn’t economical, i.e. in the suburbs or at off-peak times.