Autopilot cars and buses seem to be in vogue at present in the transport industry. We know about Tesla’s autopilot feature amid controversy nowadays but on the other hand, two autopilot minibuses have hit the streets in Helsinki, Finland just this week!
These miniature buses are designed by EasyMile – a French company. It is an electric vehicle that can accommodate up to nine passengers at a time with a speed up to 25 miles/hour. However, during the trial period, the speed is limited to 7 miles/hour only and a driver is also present in the bus – just in case. The buses are running in the city’s Hernesaari district and transports passengers from one public transit station to another.
Although other cities in Finland have also held trials for self-driving buses but mostly in controlled environments. Helsinki’s project is actually aimed at having a car-free city within the next ten years. This would be an upgrade to the already efficient, public transport system in the city. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to develop an on-demand mobility program – this way people can book and pay for their bus, taxi, train or car sharing via smartphone apps. The Assistant Mayor of Helsinki, Pekka Sauri that the city aims to develop smart urban transport solutions that will be renowned at the global level.
“We hope more companies and research institutions in Helsinki will be developing self-driving buses,” he said in a statement.
These electrical minibuses will begin their journey in Espoo and Tampere (other cities in Finland) by this fall. After the first snowfall, they will be suspended till the spring season.
According to the transport laws of Finland, it is not necessary for the driver to be present in the vehicle, therefore, self-driving is legally an available option.
“The law doesn’t actually require it, it’s the way it has been written historically, but the government has embraced it in relation to self-driving vehicles,” said Harri Santamala, project manager.
What do you think of this adorable minibus? Can something like this be introduced in your country? Let us know.