The old and boring of the public transport buses may be gone soon as Mercedes introduces the Future Bus, which brings autonomous transportation to the public.
Mercedes revealed the semi-autonomous Future Bus last year that drove over 12 miles from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to Haarlem. People were highly impressed with the futuristic bus as it made its way through traffic lights, and tunnels while navigating around people.
The company claims that the need for self-driving buses will arise as the demand for public transportation increases. On the first drive of the Future Bus last July, the CEO of Daimler Trucks and Buses, Wolfgang Bernhard commented, “We are living in an increasingly urban world. Cities are home to more than 50% of the world’s population. And the number keep increasing rapidly. If more and more people eat, sleep, and work in cities, a number of big challenges emerge. One major challenge is to move all of these people and to move them fast, safely, and comfortably. This means we need attractive, public transportation.”
Pioneering in autonomous trucks, Mercedes has already built the Highway Pilot System for the trucks. The company is just building upon the same system to create City Pilot, the system that the autonomous Future Bus uses. Just like a truck on a highway, the City Pilot can drive the bus through the city roads where it recognizes traffic lights and steers through tunnels while acknowledging pedestrians and bicycles. The autopilot is programmed to navigate to the bus stop with incredible accuracy with a separation of less than 10 cm between the bus and the curb.
The Mercedes Future Bus operates in the Bus only lanes, running at the top speed of 43 miles an hour. The traffic in the bus lanes is simpler to they are easier to navigate. The navigation is aided by camera systems, radar sensors, and GPS. The Future Bus is also claimed to be more fuel efficient than conventional buses as the City pilot optimizes efficiency by braking, accelerating, and shifting gears at just the right time.
The driving technology of the Future Bus is not its only futuristic feature; the bus is designed to look like a classic lounge. The interior is divided into three seating areas, one of which is designed to get on and off the bus quickly. The second area allows the passengers more details about the route, while the third portion hold the people who are on longer routes. Two 43-inch screens above the overhead console display information about routes and other news and the passengers are offered Wi-Fi as well.
The Future Bus offers incredible features and comfort to its passengers, but as of now, the bus is only partially autonomous. A human driver stays to monitor the vehicle’s surrounding and is allowed to overrule the autonomous system at any time.