KIRA - AI-based regular operation of autonomous on-demand services

  • contact:

    Dr.-Ing. Martin Kagerbauer

    M.Sc. Pia Tulodetzki

    M.Sc. Ann-Sophie Voss

    M.Sc. Tim Wörle

  • funding:

    Bundesministerium für Digitales und Verkehr (BMDV)

  • partner:

    DB Regio Bus Mitte GmbH

    Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raum-fahrt e.V. (DLR) - Institut für Verkehrsforschung (VF)

    Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raum-fahrt e.V. (DLR) - Institut für Verkehrssystemtechnik (TS)

    Verband deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen e.V. (VDV)

    HEAG mobilo

    Kreisverkehrsgesellschaft Offenbach (kvgOF)

    Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund GmbH (RMV)

    Deutsche Bahn

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Problem statement

New technical developments and the legal framework for autonomous driving in Germany, finalized in 2022 with the AFGBV, will make it possible for the first time to operate autonomous on-demand services in defined operation areas on a regular basis. For the successful, safe and traffic-effective implementation, essential questions regarding technical, operational and planning processes in the context of the approval and deployment of autonomous on-demand services must be clarified today. These include questions about the operational integration into existing services and the design of technical supervision of the vehicles. Furthermore, there is as yet no experience from real services as to who would use the autonomous services and how the behavior of users would change. Substantial planning knowledge about the design and dimensioning of autonomous on-demand services in harmony with the existing space and an orientation towards the most ecological, economic and social transport effects possible does not yet exist.


The aim of the project is to conduct the first research into autonomous on-demand services in public transport under real traffic conditions. The focus is on the development and testing of the necessary technical, operational, and regulatory processes.

The aim of the accompanying research of KIT is to investigate the usage intention and travel behavior of people in the context of autonomous on-demand services. Based on this, forecasts for the design of the transport system with autonomous on-demand services will be made. The research results expected in the course of the trial and accompanying research will make an essential contribution to establishing autonomous on-demand services in public transport and thus improving the overall public transport service. This will contribute to the sustainable and barrier-free transformation of mobility.


In the project, several autonomous vehicles will be deployed in both rural and urban areas. To investigate the acceptance of the new service by the population as well as the transportation-related effects, travel surveys will be conducted in the context of the (autonomous) on-demand services to record existing and possible future behavior. This basis in combination with providers’ usage data will be used to analyze determinants of behavior. In a further step, behavioral models will be created, which will be integrated into the agent-based travel demand model that will be set up for the planning region. This model allows for a detailed mapping of transportation-related decisions ranging from long-term choice of workplace to season ticket ownership to choice of travel mode for a given trip. The model created is used to make forecasts for future states in which autonomous on-demand transportation is implemented in various configurations. The reference to area and behavioral characteristics ultimately enables a transfer of the findings beyond the planning region.