According to its own statements, the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) wants to use at least 15 on-demand vehicles in Darmstadt and in the Offenbach district in the second half of next year, which will be autonomous, i.e. only with the help of cameras and laser and radar sensors maneuver.

First of all, the electrically powered SUV cars, which have space for six passengers and travel at normal traffic speeds, will have an operator who can intervene in an emergency.

At the beginning of 2024, however, it should also be dispensed with.

The test, which is scheduled to run until the end of 2024, is made possible by the financial support of the federal and state governments.

Users of the offer have to pay a basic price and a sum based on the length of the journey.

Ralph Euler

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung, responsible for the Rhein-Main section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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"On-demand traffic is highly attractive for passengers and thus offers great potential for the mobility turnaround," said RMV Managing Director André Kavai on Monday at the annual conference of the Association of German Transport Companies in Frankfurt.

"Networked, digital and to a certain extent autonomous - that will be the new mobility," predicted Kavai.

With minibuses that are available on demand and increasingly maneuvering without drivers, people in rural areas in particular could be won over to public transport for whom it was previously uninteresting.

Together with Deutsche Bahn, RMV wants to realize the world's first autonomous shuttle fleet that is fully integrated into regular public transport operations.

RMV is aiming to have on-demand buses running throughout the tariff zone by the middle of the decade;

increasingly operated automatically, i.e. without a driver.

The RMV has already had successful tests with autonomous shuttle buses - albeit with an operator on board to be on the safe side and with a maximum speed of 15 kilometers per hour - at the Mainkai in Frankfurt, on the premises of the Helios Clinic in Wiesbaden, in the Eberbach monastery in the Rheingau and made in Bad Soden-Salmünster.

On the company premises of the Frankfurt Transport Authority (VGF), a self-driving bus made its rounds without an operator.