Mercedes-Benz’s Autonomous ‘Future Bus’ Just Drove Itself Across Amsterdam
The bus followed a 20km route between Schiphol airport and a nearby town
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled an autonomous bus that the car manufacturer is calling the “public transport of the future”.
Dubbed the “Future Bus”, the concept is touted as operating even more safely, efficiently and comfortably than conventional buses, even without a driver.
According to Mercedes-Benz, one of its prototype Future Bus vehicles successfully followed a 20km Bus Rapid Transit route between Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and the nearby town of Haarlem, navigating through a number of bends and passing through tunnels and across junctions and traffic lights without driver intervention.
“[The Future Bus] has a top speed of 70 km/h on the open road, is able to recognise obstacles and pedestrians on the road, comes to a precise halt at bus stops, opens and closes its doors, moves off automatically and communicates with traffic light systems.”
The bus runs on Daimler’s CityPilot technology platform, which is said to have set a milestone both in the history of the bus and on the way to autonomous and accident-free driving because it’s been adapted to handle specific needs of a city bus.
CityPilot also means the bus is connected to the city’s network it is operating in, so can communicate directly with traffic lights and other city infrastructure for a smoother ride. The built-in camera systems can even scan the road for potholes and avoid bumpy areas the next time it travels on them, sharing that information back to the city.
However, regulations mean that while the bus can drive itself, it still requires a human operator to sit behind the wheel in case of an emergency. For example, if he or she needs to intervene at any time and immediately take control.
There’s no mention as to when we are likely to see Future Bus come to fruition but the companies involved are hoping it will resolve worldwide traffic problems in densely populated areas and metropolitan regions.
The Future Bus concept isn’t Mercedes-Benz’s first autonomous vehicle project. The company announced a “Future Truck 2025” concept in 2014 in a bid to revolutionise the trucking industry.