Pilot project

ParkShuttle Kralingse Zoom - Rivium

in Capelle a/d IJssel, the Netherlands


One of the first people mover systems in the Netherlands is the ParkShuttle system. The ParkShuttle is a low-capacity automatic navigating vehicle that operates without any physical guidance. It finds its way automatically and travels on a simple ground-level asphalt track. This innovative form of passenger transport is ideally suited for short-distance feeder transport to public transport stations. A pilot project is presently under construction in Rotterdam under consultancy of Advanced Netherlands Transport. It links the business park Rivium to the metrostation Kralingse Zoom.

Advanced Netherlands Transport

Advanced Netherlands Transport (ANT) is an independent consultancy and engineering office. ANT advises clients about different people mover systems and can design and manage the complete implementation of a chosen system.

ANT is a joint-venture between:

  • ZWN Group (largest public transport company in the Netherlands),
  • IC Holding (investment company in technology),
  • Hollandia Kloos (steel construction).

These companies have experience with the implementation of different people mover systems in the Netherlands, as for example the ParkShuttle in Rotterdam and the monorail system in Alphen a/d Rijn. The know-how and experience gained from these projects have been joined in ANT.

Why ParkShuttle?

Public transport often isn't suitable for door-to-door transport. The attractiveness of present-day public transport systems is often limited by the time-consuming nature of getting to and from it. This is the result of :

  • change-overs which involve long waiting-times;
  • wide grid of PT-network, which causes long walking distances;
  • the routing (detours);

Also the low frequency of public transport provides the traveler with long waiting-times at a stop. The frequency cannot be increased because of the high labor cost of the drivers (in the Netherlands some 70% of total operating costs). Cost effective operation of present day public transport modes often results in a low frequency.

The concept of automated transport combined with a network of closely spaced stops provides an excellent solution for moving people over short distances. The ParkShuttle pilot project was started both to provide a better service for existing and new transport markets by improving the quality of public transport and to produce environmental benefits in the densely populated area. The system uses autonomously operating vehicles that travel along a simple infrastructure using electronic navigation. Due to the simple infrastructure the costfactor is low compared to other people mover systems. Generally people mover systems involve high investments because they require extensive infrastructure. See artist's sketch of an operating system.

FROG Navigation systems and ZWN Group have taken the initiative to develop the concept further. The feasibility of the concept is demonstrated by means of the ParkShuttle pilot project. ZWN Public Transports expertise in the field of passenger transport and FROG's technology form a solid base for the commencement of this pilot project.

Pilot project: ParkShuttle Rotterdam - Capelle a/d IJssel

The Rivium Business Park in the municipality of Capelle aan den IJssel near Rotterdam in the Netherlands, is an ideal location for the project. The public transport link between the business park and the nearest metro-station is missing. Presently a shuttle-bus service provides the public transport accessibility of the business park. The low frequency decreases public transport attractivity for the entire home-work chain.

An overview map and a close-up map of the project geography is provided.


The participants in the ParkShuttle project are:

  • Ministry of Transport,
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs,
  • Community of Capelle a/d IJssel,
  • Community of Rotterdam,
  • ZWN Group (largest Public Transport company in the Netherlands),
  • Frog Navigation Systems.

Project goals:

  • demonstrate feasibility,
  • public acceptance,
  • increase in use of public transport,
  • increase in location climate.

What is the ParkShuttle?

The ParkShuttle is an automatic navigating vehicle which transports passengers (people mover system). There is no driver on board, instead a computer and an electronic navigation system do the driving. People movers already operate in different locations around the world. These systems, however, often use some form of mechanical guidance. The ParkShuttle will operate without a mechanical guidance; it will find its way automatically traveling on a simple asphalt track with electronical guidance. A diagram is provided to illustrate these concepts.

The main characteristics of this new transportation system are:

  • small transportation units,
  • high frequency,
  • range 500 m - 5 km,
  • high density network,
  • automatic operation,
  • on-demand operation,
  • simple infrastructure on ground level.

Navigation with FROG technology

The FROG technology consists of a navigation system which allows vehicles to travel under fully automated control. FROG is short for Free Ranging On Grid and has been proven in many types of vehicles. Small vehicles for internal transport facilities in factories and large ones for automated transportation of containers at port cargo handling yards.

Each vehicle has an on-board computer which stores an electronic map of the area in which the vehicle is required to operate. Using this map, the vehicle is able to plan its route to drive from point A to point B. The vehicle's starting position is known. As soon as the vehicle starts to move, it measures the distance traveled by means of encoders that count the number of wheel revolutions. At bends it is possible to calculate the vehicle's position from the angle of the wheels. This method may suffer from slight inaccuracies as a result of changes in vehicle load (full or empty) or an uneven or slippery road surface. For this reason, a number of calibration points are required at regular distances to check the calculated position and adjust it when necessary. These points are the transponders embedded in the road surface. The transponders are passive radio frequency tags positioned at regular intervals in the track. Each vehicle measures the location of the transponders by means of an antenna. Positioning accuracy of 2-3 cm is reached, sufficient for the vehicle to come to a halt right next to the platform at a stop.

The vehicle is able to determine its own route because each vehicle has its own driving computer and positioning system. Regulation of route planning and the vehicle's interaction with other FROG vehicles and normal road traffic is taken care of by a supervisory computer control system called SuperFROG.

Ground level infrastructure

The main reason to make use of ground-level infrastructure is to reduce the cost of the infrastructure, compared to other people mover systems. The infrastructure consists of a simple, 3-meter wide asphalt track. The distance between Kralingse Zoom metro station and Rivium business park is about 1200 meters. The track is not fully separated. The only separation consists of a one meter high fence and a greenzone with bushes. Most applications of automated public transport systems require a complete separation of the track, mostly for safety reasons.

The ParkShuttle however has a safety system of sensitive and intelligent sensors. The sensors scan the area in front of the vehicle and will decelerate or stop the vehicle when an unknown obstacle is detected. An additional safety feature is provided by the bumper system that brings the vehicle to an immediate halt when it is impressed. In addition, the vehicle has emergency stop buttons (both inside and outside) that can be operated by the passengers. The speed is limited to 30 km/h for safety reasons and to obtain a good ride quality.

At Kralingse Zoom metro station direct access to the ParkShuttle track is prevented by a fence. Automatic platform doors give access to the ParkShuttle vehicle. The separation of the track gives extra safety and avoid people walking on the track.

System concept

The ParkShuttle people mover can be compared with a horizontal elevator operating between Kralingse Zoom metro station in Rotterdam and Rivium Business Park. From this important public transport transfer point it will be possible to travel to Rivium within 3 minutes. In the first phase vehicles will depart at two to three minutes intervals.

The ParkShuttle operates on-demand. The different stops or stations are similar to the floors with a vertical elevator. An elevator can be called by pressing the elevator button. The ParkShuttle operates the same way; a vehicle can be requested by pushing the button on the request-console. When a vehicle arrives, the passenger boards and pushes the destination button inside the vehicle, similar to a vertical elevator. After all passengers have boarded the on-board computer calculates the shortest route to all chosen destinations and automatically drive to the destinations.

The vehicles are controlled by a supervisory computer system (SuperFROG) that sends the traffic control and request-messages to the vehicles via a radio data link. This is the only centrally controlled function; the driving control takes place in the vehicle itself. This means there is no need for extensive radio communication with the central computer.

Traffic control with respect to other traffic (pedestrians, cyclists, cars and other public transport) is accomplished by means of traffic lights and/or barrier gates controlled by SuperFROG. SuperFROG activates the traffic lights and the barrier gates whenever a FROG vehicle approaches a crossing. SuperFROG will allow the vehicle to cross only after the traffic lights and/or barrier gates have reported back to confirm that they have been activated so that traffic control is reliable and fail-safe. Also, there is the in-vehicle obstacle detection system to prevent collisions. During the pilot project particular attention is paid to the safe functioning of level crossings. Among other things, the behavior of all traffic participants at the crossings will be analyzed. In the first phase a level crossing with other infrastructure is not built.


The ParkShuttle vehicle runs on four rubber tires. Traction is provided by an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery. Up to 100 km can be covered on one battery-load. It has a capacity of 10 passengers, 6 seated and 4 standees. It is easy to get into and out of the vehicle (wheelchair accessible) and good all-round visibility is provided. Inside the vehicle is a console on which the passengers can indicate their destination. Each vehicle is also fitted with an information display that announces the stop at which the vehicle has arrived.

The maximum load is 800 kg. The maximum vehicle weight is monitored by means of weight sensor. As soon as the total weight of the passengers and cargo exceeds the limit, the vehicle will refuse to depart and a message will automatically be announced. Sensors fitted in the doorways monitor the entrance and exit of passengers. The vehicle will never depart while a passenger is in the process of boarding and exiting.

The safety system consists of the obstacle detection system mentioned before. A camera and communications system are mounted in the vehicle. Both are in contact with the central control room. The camera allows constant monitoring of vehicle security and a rapid response to any irregularity. The communication system permits communication between the passengers and the control room, functioning as an intercom.

SuperFROG supervisory computer system

The SuperFROG supervisory computer system communicates via radio with the vehicles, the request-consoles and the traffic lights. SuperFROG receives the requests for the vehicles and decides which vehicle it will instruct to go to the station where the request was made. Vehicle instructions are managed efficiently and take into account the distances between the vehicles and stations and the status of the vehicles.

SuperFROG keeps a graphical record of the position of each vehicle. It also keeps record of the issued instructions, the status of each vehicle, the status of the traffic zones and all relevant messages. Any malfunction is immediately reported to SuperFROG, which is linked to the central control room. The operator can continuously monitor the condition of the system. It is also very easy to change the lay-out of the routes so that routing can be altered, stations moved or added and the system expanded.

Entry control

Entry control to the system only takes place at the metro station Kralingse Zoom. Passengers working in Rivium will have a chipcard travel pass which allows the passenger to pass through a turnstile and gives access to the enclosed ParkShuttle platform. Visitors or persons without a chipcard travel pass can buy a ticket at the metro station, which will also allow them automatic access to the platform. See the plan view diagram of a typical station .

The turnstile is fitted with an accessor which collects data on the time of entry and the pass number of each passenger. This data is stored in a computer linked to the accessor. The data thus collected can then be processed statistically to analyze the system use.

Pilot test

The pilot test of the ParkShuttle system consists of a number of phases:

Phase I: technical test without passengers

All technical functions of the system are tested over a period of three months. For this period a 200 meter long track is constructed, completely separated from any public road. The elements to be tested are:

  • vehicle navigation and motion control,
  • SuperFROG supervisory computer system,
  • safety systems,
  • vehicle demand system,
  • battery charging system,
  • control systems,
  • security systems,
  • traffic control using traffic lights and/or barrier gates,
  • technical reliability,

Phase II: system test with trained passengers

After the system has proven to operate reliable in phase I, the second phase involves tests with trained passengers. These passengers will use the system for one day as if they were actual passengers. A trained ParkShuttle attendant will be present on each vehicle to collect information and to respond immediately to any problem or malfunction. These trials with test passengers will be run regularly over a period of three months. Between the tests the errors encountered can be solved and improvements made.

The elements to be tested are:

  • passenger acceptance,
  • passenger waiting times,
  • system reliability,
  • system management and corrective maintenance,
  • technical elements as in phase I, under user conditions,
  • operation of voice system, emergency push buttons, entry control, door, weight sensors,

On the 200 meter test track a level crossing will be simulated in order to test the safety requirements and its functioning prior to the construction of an operational crossing in a later phase.

Phase III: system test with daily passengers

People working in Rivium will receive a ParkShuttle chipcard travel pass. Each pass has its own identification number that can be read electronically and gives access to the ParkShuttle platform at Kralingse Zoom metro station. Passengers without a travel pass can buy a ticket at the metro station, which will also allow them automatic access to the platform.

The system will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This test period will last approximately six months, with the weekend available for maintenance and for solving any problems encountered. Initially there will still be a ParkShuttle attendant on board the vehicles. As soon as this is no longer necessary, the system will function without a crew on-board of the vehicles.

In phase III the same elements will be tested as in phase II, utilizing regular passengers. Extra attention will be paid to the way the system meets the transportation needs. The system capacity under operation will be measured. Also, the 'travel behavior' will be logged electronically and analyzed. During this test period several groups of people will be invited to travel to Rivium to allow the use and acceptance by people unfamiliar with the system to be tested.

Phase IV: system test with public road crossing

In the previous test phases trails were conducted using simulated crossings to test the traffic-control systems. In phase IV a crossing of the ParkShuttle track with a public road will be realized. The ParkShuttle track will be extended to a second stop in Rivium, making a crossing with existing infrastructure necessary.

First the crossing will be tested without passengers in the vehicle. Only after proven reliability the additional stop will be opened to passengers.

Operational phase

After successful completion of the pilot project, the system will be ready to become fully operational. The experience gained during the pilot tests will be used to further optimize the system and make it suitable for commercial applications elsewhere.

Costs of the ParkShuttle pilot project

Park Shuttle system (including 3 vehicles) : $ 1,5 mln

Infrastructure : $ 1,0 mln

Total system $ 2,5 mln

Test phases $ 1,0 mln

Total project $ 3,5 mln

Applications: feeder/ intermodal

  • business parks,
  • airports,
  • theme parks/ recreational parks, events,
  • shopping centers/ residential area's,
  • public transport nodes/ Park + Ride.

For more details, contact Robbert Lohmann, 2getthere, Proostwetering 16a, 3543 AE Utrecht, the Netherlands, phone (+31) 30 2383570, robbert@2getthere.eu. Also visit www.2getthere.eu for more information.

Last modified: August 07, 2009