As of last month, driverless battery-powered buses have been buzzing around Trikala – a small Greek city with a population of just 80,000.
The bus has been trialed without passengers since summer of this year. However, last month they started transporting people in a plan that hopes to make mass-transport safer and more environmentally friendly than before. What’s even better: the journey is free!
The project is collaboration between tech organization Robosoft and CityMobil2, a French company partially funded by the European Union. The town will have six buses that can transport 10 passengers around the town at a maximum speed of 19 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour). Using lasers, cameras and GPS, the buses will travel around the winding Greek roads, navigating around cars, cyclists, mopeds, and stray animals.
The buses will drive a circular route that just sticks to one lane, however the lane will be shared with other road users. If the bus encounters an obstacle, it’ll just have to wait for the obstacle to move. Although, each bus will have a driver who does have the power to override the computer system.
The trial – which goes on until March 2016 – hopes to look at the economic and environmental benefits of driverless buses, along with the cultural and behavior changes it could bring.
“There were cities bidding for this project all over Europe. They offered relatively restricted urban areas. But we said we could make it happen in a downtown environment, and we won,” said Odysseas Raptis, who heads the city’s digital project department, e-Trikala, to the Associated Press. “We have a 2.4-kilometer (1.5-mile) route, the bus route. It’s mixed with traffic, with pedestrians, with bicycles, with cars... That hasn’t been done before.”
[H/T Popular Science]