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De Lijn gives another shot at AVs in Belgium

Flemish public transport operator De Lijn has initiated a call for candidates to develop a pilot project in Leuven, aiming to introduce driverless buses by 2026.

The project envisions up to 20 autonomous vehicles initially, expanding to 80, driving on public roads in complex traffic environments. The contract is set to be awarded later this year, with tests planned for 2025 and a passenger service launch in Q2 2026.

De Lijn anticipates that autonomous transport will eventually enable efficient and attractive public transport, contingent on further technological advancements and cost considerations.

Autonomous vehicles have been on De Lijn's radar for some years now. This initiative follows a feasibility studies carried out with 5 flemish cities (that later led to a call for tender), and a pilot project at Brussels Airport in collaboration with technology provider 2getthere (acquired by ZF Group in 2019) – see picture below.

Both projects were discontinued due to technology maturity issues.

2getthere's GRT vehicle, showcased by De Lijn at Brussels Airport in 2019

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This project is supported by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. EIT Urban Mobility acts to accelerate positive change on mobility to make urban spaces more liveable.

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