Nobody likes taking the bus. It’s slow, crowded, hot, jerky and generally just an annoying experience all around, at least if you’re in a city. But unless you can somehow afford a car in today’s economic climate, the bus is often an essential way of getting where you need to be. Isn’t there some way to make over the bus transport situation, so that it’s a more pleasant trip for everyone?
Over in the Netherlands, Mercedes Benz is certainly trying to rectify the situation. They just recently demoed the Future Bus, a prototype for what city buses could look like in the near future. Not only is the interior design more spacious and smartly organized, the big selling feature here is that the bus is self-driving.
Now, initially that sounds like somewhat of a scary idea. I’m not sure I’d want to be taken through city traffic by some sort of artificial intelligence. But fear not, there will still be drivers – they just won’t have to do quite as much as they used to. The autonomous technology employed in the vehicle is called CityPilot and it allows for automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, and acceleration and braking functions. Additionally, ten separate cameras and four short-range radar sensors are used to monitor the road and the bus’s surroundings. Meanwhile, GPS tracks the position of the bus in relation to the area it’s in and a few other cameras record aspects of the trip to refer to for later. Apparently, the Future Bus will also be able to maneuver to within centimeters of curbs and other objects and can recognize traffic lights, pedestrians, traffic and other obstacles and respond accordingly. So with all of this covered, all the bus driver needs to do is monitor the system and step in if there are any issues.
The interior of the bus is open-plan and much more spacious, while designating three different zones for passengers to occupy depending on how long they plan on being on the bus. Passenger flow should also be helped with green and red bands indicating which doors to get on and off the bus and an electronic ticket system. The only downside to the design is that there is less seating due to the open-concept design but I guess something had to go from the traditional look.
Right now, the Future Bus is being tested on a route between Amsterdam-Schiphol airport and Haarlem in the Netherlands and if all goes well, maybe we’ll start to see them take off.
Image source: Gizmag