Mercedes-Benz Reveals Its Take on the Self-Driving Bus

Mercedes-Benz Reveals Its Take on the Self-Driving Bus

Even luxury automakers are taking a stab at the autonomous vehicle market these days. Mercedes-Benz is the latest to throw their hat in the ring with an eye-catching design appropriately named “Future Bus.” Featuring sleek lines and expansive window panes, the design truly does look like the bus of tomorrow. Leave it to Mercedes to make a great-looking vehicle.

But the Future Bus is about more than just aesthetics; it’s built to be uncommonly efficient as well. The Future Bus uses Mercedes’ proprietary CityPilot technology that was originally introduced two years ago for the company’s self-driving Actros truck. CityPilot is capable of detecting and recognizing different objects on the road and communicating with a city’s local infrastructure. This means that the FutureBus will not only be able to predict when traffic lights are going to change, but also provide cities with valuable data about wear and tear in their roads.

In the FutureBus, CityPilot is programmed to automatically stop at bus stops along its route. The designers at Mercedes-Benz note that their self-driving software offers a gentle, smooth ride that allows riders to comfortably stand on the bus during busy commutes. The bus has a top speed of 70 km/hr (about 45 mph).

In July, the FutureBus passed its first major road test when it navigated more than 20 kilometers on complex section of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route in the Netherlands. While a driver had to be at the wheel in order to maintain legal compliance, the bus was able to gracefully complete the route on its own. The next step for Mercedes-Benz will be to start implementing the FutureBus on select BRT routes in Europe for further testing. Meanwhile, other companies are trialing similar technologies here in the United States as well.

Autonomous Shuttle Buses Slated to Hit Swiss Streets in 2016

Autonomous Shuttle Buses Slated to Hit Swiss Streets in 2016

Driverless vehicles are no longer a far-off dream of the future. In just a few months, autonomous buses will debut on the streets of Sion, Valais in Switzerland. The project is being spearheaded by the Swiss startup BestMile, who developed a dispatching system that allows them to monitor and control fleets of autonomous vehicles in real time from afar.
 
Rather than devoting their energy and resources to developing privately owned autonomous vehicles, BestMile is committed to focusing on public transportation instead. The company is working in conjunction with a French manufacturer, Navya, to deploy autonomous buses in Switzerland by spring of next year.
 
A testing phase began in December that introduced a small group of the buses will travel in controlled areas around Sion without passengers. If the initial testing goes as planned, passengers will be able to travel through many of the city’s tourism hubs on the buses within the next couple of months.
 
Rather than using driver-assist software, the buses will be entirely autonomous – operating without a steering wheel and pedals. An official will be present on each bus at all times, however, to monitor its operations. In addition to the official, the buses will seat 9 passengers. The buses are powered by electric motors and can reach a top speed of 20 km/hr (just shy of 15 mph). They won’t be breaking land speed records anytime soon, but in the small, crowded Swiss streets there’s not much need for speed anyway.
 
Some publications are touting this as a world first, but in fact similar buses have already successfully been deployed in the Netherlands. It will likely be a few more years before we see autonomous shuttle buses in American cities, but we might see them at airports and campuses even sooner.
 
Stay tuned for more updates from your premier source for new and used buses – Las Vegas Bus Sales.
 

Chinese Company Test Drives a Prototype Driverless Bus

Chinese Company Test Drives a Prototype Driverless Bus

Since Google’s driverless cars hit the streets of California in 2012, autonomous vehicles have become a hot topic of discussion in the automotive market. Veteran automakers such as Ford and Nissan have since joined the race to bring the first driverless car to the consumer market. By some estimates, we might see these futuristic vehicles in dealership showrooms by 2020. In spite of the media buzz surrounding driverless cars, we haven’t heard much about the possibility of deploying similar technology on city buses until recently.
 
On the one hand, this makes sense. Buses are large and cumbersome and have to carefully navigate narrow city streets in unfavorable traffic conditions. On the other hand, though, they travel on predetermined paths at relatively low speeds and never have to find parking. With these considerations in mind, buses actually might be ideal candidates for driverless technology. In fact, some people in the public transportation industry are arguing that buses, rather than cars, are the real future of autonomous vehicles.
 
Well, thanks to Chinese bus manufacturer Yutong, we might not have to wait too much longer to find out. The company, which has been developing a driverless bus since 2012, recently test drove their prototype vehicle on a 32 kilometer trek between the neighboring cities of Zhengzhou and Kaifeng. The bus, which could be switched between autonomous and manual modes, completed the entire journey without intervention from the driver. The company says they still have quite a bit of work to do before the buses will be ready to put into service, but this first autonomous drive is a big accomplishment.
 
While most bus manufacturers have remained pretty ambivalent about the prospect of driverless buses, advancements such as this might encourage others to follow suit with similar projects. We’ll just have to wait and see.
 
For now, we’ll continue doing our part to provide our customers with the best human-operated buses on the market at extremely competitive prices. Browse our entire inventory online, or give us a call today for more information about any of the buses on our lot.