Benteler-owned autonomous shuttle company Benteler announces a new cooperation (through memorandum of understanding) with public transport operator Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area in Germany, with the goal of “advancing autonomous mobility in local public transport: both companies aim to integrate autonomous shuttles into the RMV”.

The company has already announced the start of a pilot project in northern Germany, where it is cooperating with Hamburger Hochbahn: from 2026, several vehicles from Holon shall be available for integration in test operation, subject to funding and contract placement. To this end, the memorandum of understanding also covers infrastructure as well as homologation and licensing procedures. Indeed, as announced, by 2030 there could be up to 10,000 autonomous shuttles on Hamburg’s roads within ALIKE project. following an agreement between the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Holon Mover and Volkswagen ID.Buzz AD will be the first two vehicles to be tested.

Holon Mover towards German pilots

The Benteler brand Holon presented its driverless shuttle for the first time at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. It features design by Pininfarina and sees Beep and Mobileye as development partners. The vehicle is claimed to be “the world’s first autonomous mover built to automotive standards”. The Holon mover operates autonomously and with a maximum speed of 60 km/h (37mph). It has a range of about 290 kilometers, manufacturer says. The vehicle was displayed at Mobility Move 2024 in Berlin in March 2024.

Production of the Holon mover is scheduled to start in the U.S. at the end of 2025, with additional production capacity to be built in Europe and the Middle East/Asia in the following years. Cargo applications are also in the spotlight for the future.

Just a few steps back: Benteler announced it was establishing a new brand identity under the name of Holon in late 2022. The Benteler EV Systems business unit, which was spun off at the end of 2021, changed its name consequently.

Holon – RMV cooperation goes live

The future cooperation, Holon says, “will focus on the regular exchange of knowledge between the companies in order to jointly master the challenges of autonomous vehicle use”. Both parties indeed intend to complement existing transportation services by integrating autonomous vehicles. To this end, new standards and technologies for the connectivity of vehicles and infrastructures will be developed and innovative solutions for accessing and paying for mobility services driven forward.

Holon CEO Dr. Henning von Watzdorf comments: “Our common goal is to fully exploit the potential of autonomous vehicles in local public transport. This is important to us as a vehicle manufacturer, and RMV as one of the largest transport associations in Germany. We both want to offer passengers an efficient, safe and sustainable autonomous transport solution. That’s why we will identify and use the synergies between our organizations in the future. Holon wants to make mobility accessible to everyone. The Mover is therefore designed to be inclusive: It’s equipped with twin electrically operated sliding doors with light barriers and an automatic ramp. It can also be lowered to facilitate easier entry. For the visually handicapped, additional support through Braille and an audiovisual guide during the journey is available.

RMV Managing Director Prof. Knut Ringat adds: “At RMV, we have been testing autonomous mobility in local public transport in various projects since 2019. Together with Holon, we are aiming for the next milestone, the integration of autonomous vehicles in regular operations. Adding autonomous mobility to the transport mix will make travel services more dependable in times of an ongoing shortage of skilled workers. It will also enable us to offer our passengers even more flexible and frequent services in future.”

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