We’re quickly learning that autonomy isn’t just for small vehicles such as cars and light commercial trucks. Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed Uber’s Otto truck showcase its self-driving capability by transporting loads beer (of all items) across Colorado. But even ahead of that, Mercedes-Benz also gave us a glimpse of the future with the introduction of their premiere Future Bus with CityPilot–a self-driving system that was based on the company’s Highway Pilot technology, which was seen in the company’s autonomous Actros Truck.
Using a number of cameras, radar, and GPS systems, the bus is able to recognise and communicate with traffic lights, allowing it to drive through junctions they control. The bus, which has been developed by the company’s Daimler Truck’s department also features an auto-brake system that can recognise obstacles like pedestrians crossing the road, in order to avoid collisions. It’s also able to halt at bus stops, where the doors will open and close automatically for passengers.
“[Future Bus] makes public transport safer, more efficient and more productive,” said Wolfgang Bernhard, board member of Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler AG. “More people can travel from A to B quickly, punctually and in comfort, to the benefit of all: bus operators, bus drivers and passengers.”
The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot made its first public journey on part of Europe’s longest BRT route (Bus Rapid Transit) in the Netherlands. The almost 20 km long route is a real challenge for the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus, as it has numerous bends and passes through tunnels and across junctions with traffic lights. However, the Future Bus came out successful, much to the delight of Daimler and the spectators who overlooked the event.
The bus registered a top speed of 70 km/h on the open road and precisely stopping on 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.