A new light rail track (Ring 3 Light Rail) is currently built to serve 29 stations in the suburban areas of Copenhagen, and the vision for the LINC project has been to develop a mobility service that supports this high-capacity public transport system. The project aimed at developing and demonstrating a service based on self-driving shuttles that serve as a first/last mile service and expands the utility of the light rail beyond the blocks closest to the stations.
The LINC project started in June 2018, with the objective of letting innovative solutions support a shift from private cars to more sustainable, shared mobility modes. The project ended in November 2021 and summing up the results one year after, the main achievements include:
- The test in the LINC project was one of Denmark's very first trials with self-driving buses operating on public streets. See Journal 5 for more details on the tests performed. That fact that self-driving shuttles operated for six months gained a lot of attention. The test triggered dialogues about future sustainable mobility among users, operators, politicians, and media. Furthermore, the tests gave new insights and learnings that are valuable for other cities, both at technical and operational levels. Furthermore, the tests gave new insights and learnings that are valuable for other cities, both at technical and operational levels.
- One of the main achievements of the project was to obtain a legal permit to operate the self-driving shuttles. This process appeared to be much more complicated compared to other countries in the Nordics. The LINC project not only obtained the permit to operate, but the project also delivered recommendations for improvement of the Danish approval process to decision-makers. In 2022 the Danish Road Directorate and Danish Road Traffic Authority conducted a final evaluation of the Danish pilot scheme for automated vehicles (AVs). In the authority's evaluation, many of the LINC project recommendations have been heard and have now been taken further for a decision in the Danish parliament's decision to extend the pilot scheme for AVs.
- The LINC project also developed an app and a smartphone sensing platform that uses Bluetooth beacons to monitor users’ mobility patterns and provide smart services to users and operators (see more details in Journal 4).
- The learnings from the LINC tests have been communicated in several ways, including a vision and plan for self-driving shuttles as a complement to the lightrail, and a report for decision-makers, including a SUMP-guide that identifies where in the planning process intelligent public mobility can be useful. Several workshops and seminars have been held with decision-makers, and two articles have been published at “mobility check”.
- It has become clear that new technologies like self-driving buses need new business models to contribute to the transformation to sustainable cities. New public-private collaborations need to be established. This can be done by urban planners in terms of revitalizing exciting parts of the city. In particular, in less dense areas, the demand for mobility services is most often not large enough to cover the operational costs. Instead, other values that the improved mobility service brings, e.g. related to property development and improved land use, need to be built on. This is further elaborated on in a LINC Zoom-in.