ULTIMO deployment site in Herford defines main route for its automated mobility service

As one of the deployment sites in the ULTIMO project, the German site in Herford has kick-started the first stage of implementation. Already before ULTIMO kicked off, in 2021 to 2023, a mobility concept was developed through citizen participation, and the plan was adopted by the city council last summer.  After, a series of workshops have laid the groundwork for the introduction of autonomous transport within Herford’s evolving mobility concept.

The workshop series, which began in September 2023, included a joint kick-off event with participants consisting of the regional branch of DB Regio Straße (BVO), representatives from the city of Herford, SVH Stadtverkehr Herford GmbH, and DB’s ULTIMO team. The result of these workshops was finally the definition of a test route according to the mobility concept. 

The proposed test routes were based on the identified potential areas and planned vehicle deployment. Initially, three deployment areas were considered, with the final selection focusing on a section in the northeast of Herford. The chosen route prioritizes optimizing access to the hospital area in Herford and enabling citizens to reach existing bus stations with the shuttle, which operates as a line-based service.  

This choice of route enables a networked approach to public transport, which includes not only traditional scheduled services on main routes, but also additional components such as on-demand services in specific areas, linking park-and-ride (P&R) facilities to public transport, and integrating bike-sharing into the transport system. 

From goalsetting to definition of the test route 

The workshops followed a structured approach, starting with a goal-setting exercise that looked at the  objectives of using autonomous shuttles in Herford’s public transport system. These goals could include improving connections between communities or serving specific hotspots and tourist destinations.  

Possible routing of the on demand shuttles in Herford

After, potential areas for implementation were defined, considering spaces where the identified goals could be effectively realized. Several key areas were selected that were consistent with those identified in the city’s previous mobility study, and GIS system maps were used to show the current distribution of transit stops or residential areas within the study area. The workshops also prioritized different target audiences, such as connecting senior living facilities or facilitating access to amenities and recreational activities.

Next steps in Herford 

The next steps include assessing the technical feasibility and selecting the vehicle manufacturer to implement the route plan. The goal is to have the first vehicles in operation in Herford by Q4 2024, officially launching deployment of the ULTIMO project in Germany and initiating research on the vehicles and overarching technology.  

Once operations have stabilized, plans will be made to further develop the pilot area. The goal is to switch the service to on-demand as soon as possible, in order to explore the core objectives of the ULTIMO project in Herford. 

ULTIMO drives transport development in Herford 

Herford is an ideal location for the deployment of autonomous vehicles thanks to its well-connected infrastructure, highlighted by the comprehensive urban transport system operated by DB Regio Straße, which covers both the city and the surrounding areas.  

The city’s forward-thinking approach to meeting evolving mobility needs is shown by its plans to enhance transportation services with on-demand offerings, demonstrating a commitment to embrace technological advancements, including automation. ULTIMO therefore plays a key role in Herford’s mobility of the future.