Every day, around 34,000 vehicles drive through the BTC shopping district in Ljubljana, said BTC chairman Jože Mermal, adding that the shopping district could become a testing ground for driverless vehicles.
Mermal said at a presentation on Tuesday that BTC invested 100,000 euros in the project. According to Mermal, the BTC shopping district is an ideal testing ground for autonomous vehicles because it’s located in the heart of Europe, is open 24//7, and the weather is always changeable. Driving in extreme weather conditions remains one of the biggest challenges for driverless vehicles.
Daniel Avdagič, the chairman of AV Living Lab, said that self-driving vehicles are first tested in a simulator, later in designated areas, then on motorways, and finally in urban areas. “Slovenia will market itself as a testing ground for driverless vehicles,” said Avdagič, adding that a public demonstration of an autonomous vehicle driving through the BTC shopping district is planned for April 27.
After the presentation, BTC, AV Living Lab, the national motorway company DARS, and the Slovenian Automobile Association (AMZS) signed an agreement to form a joint Slovenian ecosystem for the development of solutions for driverless vehicles. The Ministry of Infrastructure has also backed the project. While it has not pledged any money towards the project, Infrastructure Minister Peter Gašperšič said that the government is willing to make the country’s infrastructure ready for driverless vehicles and introduce legislation to promote the use of driverless technology.