Remember Olli, IBM’s self-driving minibus that can be 3D-printed in special “micro factories” within a couple of hours? Mercedes-Benz recently unveiled a bigger and more impressive version of the Olli, in the form of the incredibly innovative Future Bus. Envisioned as the future of public transport, the semi-autonomous vehicle boasts a range of attractive features, including advanced radar, GPS and camera systems that in turn make it a lot safer than conventional buses.
According to the developers, the Future Bus is designed to take over the driving duties, while at the same time helping reduce environmentally-harmful carbon emissions and fuel consumption. What is more, the vehicle recently completed its first autonomously-driven 20 kilometers, during preliminary testing in Netherlands. Speaking about the project, Wolfgang Bernhard said:
[Future Bus] makes public transport safer, more efficient and more productive. 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 Future Bus relies on the company’s CityPilot technology, a futuristic self-driving system that was originally developed for fully-autonomous Actros truck two years back. As pointed out by the team, the technology has undergone several improvements, offering the new vehicle a variety of innovative features. It is equipped with nearly a dozen highly-specialized cameras with short and long-range radar capabilities. Thanks to these cameras, the bus can easily recognize changes in traffic lights and even communicate with them to ensure safe crossings.
Furthermore, it is capable of detecting obstructions and hindrances on the road, including potholes and even pedestrians. An autonomous braking system allows the bus to stop every time it comes across an obstacle, in order to avoid collisions. Upon reaching designated bus stops, it comes to a stop automatically, opening and closing the doors for passengers to alight or board. The entrance and exit are also properly illuminated to help commuters get on or off more quickly. The Future Bus, the company claims, can safely run even on the busiest of urban roads.
Like regular transit buses, the Mercedes-Benz-designed vehicle displays its driving state by means of colored light strips on its exterior. The interior is divided into three separate sections: a service area in the front, an express space right in the bus’ middle for short-distance travelers as well as a comfy lounge zone at the back for people covering longer distances. According to the designers, the Future Bus can attain speeds of up to 70 km/h (approx. 43 mph).
The self-driving bus was recently made to traverse a 12-mile (around 20-kilometer-long) route from Schiphol airport in Netherlands’ capital Amsterdam to the neighboring town of Haarlem. The route, according to the spokesperson at Mercedes-Benz, included several tunnels, bends and traffic lights. In keeping with the local rules, the bus was also provided with an actual human driver, who could take over in case of an emergency.
To learn more about the Future Bus, head over to the official website of Mercedes-Benz.
Via: The Verge