Mercedes Benz has been working on a self-driving bus for some time and it’s gradually getting ready for the market. The bus code-named Future bus is being test-run in the Netherlands and it recently completed a 20km test-run journey.
The bus is actually a self-driving vehicle, but due to local regulations, which requires someone to be at the driving wheels to take over in case of an emergency, a driver that was ready to take over control was at the wheels. Therefore, we can’t refer to the vehicle as 100% self-driving, rather a semi-self-driving bus.
Nevertheless, the test-run was a success as the bus travelled from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to the town of Haarlem, a route that was specifically chosen because it poses good challenges for the technology as there are numerous bends, tunnels, and traffic lights on that particular route.
The bus is capable of recognising all objects on the road like humans, other vehicles, bus-stops, traffic lights and so on. It can also integrate with a city’s infrastructure network, which gives it access to when traffic lights on its route would change from green to red or vise versa. Furthermore, with the various cameras and other sensors attached to the body of the bus, it can also spot potholes on the road, gather other kinds of data and report back to a central computer.
The bus comes with designer benches and wireless charging surfaces that riders can use to charge their devices while on board the vehicle.
As interesting as this technology sounds, it can only be available in advanced countries and not developing countries like Nigeria. In Nigeria of today, this is not a technology for us at the moment as there is no city infrastructure network to integrate to, a large percentage of roads have big potholes in them already, existing maps (even Google Maps) for Nigeria, which would be needed for the vehicle to easily navigate through cities are still far from perfect.
We already have self-driving cars, but a self-driving bus would throw up some other kind of challenges as it would carry a lot of people per time and would have to make more stops than a car carrying a few number of people. It would however be interesting to see how the technology pans out.
Check out a video of the bus below.