Mercedes-Benz and its parent company, Daimler, claim another self-driving first this week – as they launch the world’s first self-driving bus on a public road.
The Mercedez Future Bus with CityPilot has driven autonomously along a 20km route in Amsterdam; obeying traffic light signals, avoiding pedestrians, navigating bends and tunnels, and travelling at up to 70 kmph. It has even managed to stop at the relevant bus stops with accuracy down to a centimetre!
A driver was on board for the test, but allowed the bus to drive itself using the ‘CityPilot’ technology for the first time. In a specially prepared bus lane, the tech communicates with a series of sensors and markings that are simply integrated into the existing road – meaning there’s no expensive implementation of infrastucture change.
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Daimler Trucks & Buses, said: “With our Highway Pilot, we showed nearly two years ago that autonomous driving will make long-distance truck transport safer and more efficient. We are now putting this technology into our city buses with CityPilot. It allows us to drive partially autonomously on specially marked bus lanes. This makes public transport safer, more efficient and more productive. More people can travel from A to B quickly, punctually and in comfort. To the benefit of all: bus operators, bus drivers and passengers”.
Inside the Future Bus, the interior is split into two areas. The central area is for those travelling short distances, modelled on the idea of a European-style public square, with similar park-inspired bench seating for those travelling longer around the outside. All tickets are electronic. Two 43″ TV monitors display news headline, traffic updates, and route information.
Following this initial success, Mercedes is now aiming to bring this tech to market before the decade’s end.
Would you get on a bus with no driver? Or would you prefer a Liftsharer to take the wheel? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo credit: Daimler AG
Author Lex Barber