Mercedes-Benz: one stop closer to autonomous public transport
Mercedes’ “city bus of tomorrow” takes to the streets of Amsterdam on its maiden voyage.
Having already unveiled the Future Truck in 2015 as well as the "world's most intelligent limousine" this year, Daimler has just added another string to its bow in the form of the Future Bus.
The semi-automated bus has successfully completed a 12 mile (19 kilometers) stretch of the Airport Line 300 Bus Rapid Transit route between Amsterdam-Schiphol airport and the town of Haarlem. Daimler claim that such BRT lines are ideal for autonomous driving since they use the same route, a separate line or track, a clearly defined timetable and defined and identical actions at bus stops.
That is not to say, it's an easy ride: this particular route includes tight bends, an oncoming traffic lane that is not physically separated, 22 sets of traffic lights, three tunnels and high speed sections - up to 70 km/h (43mph).
The bus is equipped with Mercedes' most recent autonomous driving platform: CityPilot. The system combines connectivity, cameras and sensors to allow the bus to perform automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking functionalities on its own: however, a driver is always present to take over if and when required.
Much like the "Highway Pilot" in the Actros driverless trucks and the "Drive Pilot" in the E-Class W213, CityPilot is said to improve safety (by reducing human error), efficiency and comfort (through smoother driving). On top of that, the bus seems rather stylish: its open-plan interior is said to have been inspired by city squares and parks with ceiling lights that resemble a leaf canopy.
Following the autonomous bus trials in Switzerland, it seems what they say is true: no buses come then two come along at once!