Using public transportation to get to the hospital is not always easy for those who suffer from health problems or have difficulty walking. AZ Maria Middelares wants to encourage patients, visitors, and employees to use this sustainable mobility solution. Come 2020, the electric self-driving shuttle, Olli will bridge the approximate 600-meter distance between the bus and tram stop, AZ Maria Middelares, and the entrance to the hospital.
Today, it is already possible to use a manned shuttle on weekdays between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. However, patients and visitors are increasingly asking to expand this service so that they can also use it early in the morning, in the evenings after visiting hours, and on weekends.
“We had already been in discussions during the planning of the new building with De Lijn about extending the bus route or utilizing a bus that connects to the stop on Kortrijkesteenweg. However, it became apparent that this wasn’t an option for the near future, so that is why we recently started looking for a sustainable alternative that could also accommodate the expanded hours of operation,” said Christopher Mouton, general manager. As a solution, the hospital issued a tender for a safe, electric, self-driving vehicle.
Meet Olli: At the conclusion of the tendering process, it was decided to enter into a partnership with LM Industries Group. This American digital OEM best met the strict technological and autonomous requirements for the project and submitted the most economically advantageous offer for the period of four years, as defined in the tender.
Olli is already successfully operating around the world and will appear in Belgium, on the site of AZ Maria Middelares in early 2020, if not sooner. Olli can carry up to eight seated passengers per trip and is also wheelchair accessible. The self-driving shuttle will operate on a low-traffic route between the AZ Maria Middelares-Maalte tram stop and the hospital entrance. Equipped with LiDAR and radar sensors, the shuttle has a 360-degree view of her surroundings at all times, ensuring maximum safety. Additionally, in the initial phase, a steward will also be onboard to fully familiarize passengers with the technology.
The project is co-sponsored by Vias Institute, which has an advisory role and plans to build on its expertise in self-driving technology through this deployment.
“We’re very pleased to deploy the newest version of Olli in Europe with AZ Maria Middelares, a forward-thinking institution seeking the best experiences for its patients. “While Olli can be customized for any customer or campus, we’re excited that the first European deployment of Olli 2.0 will provide patients and families with a better and more comfortable mobility experience on hospital grounds,” said Vikrant Aggarwal, president of Local Motors.