Daimler puts first autonomous bus into service

Daimler Bus Rapid Transit vehicle marks one of the first autonomous commercial vehicles to interact with the general public

The driver of the MB Future Bus with CityPilot only needs to take the wheel when faced with oncoming traffic, to comply with regulations.
The driver of the MB Future Bus with CityPilot only needs to take the wheel when faced with oncoming traffic, to comply with regulations.

A Daimler autonomous bus, the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot, has made its first public journey on a 20km stretch of Europe’s longest BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) route in the Netherlands.

The journey represents one of the first applications of a commercial vehicle capable of interacting with the general public.

With the CityPilot system, the vehicle is able to autonomously recognise and avoid obstacles and people on the road, stop precisely at bus stops, open and close the passenger doors, set off again and communicate with the traffic light systems along the route.

Linking Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with the town of Haarlem, the 20km test route has numerous bends, tunnels and across junctions with traffic lights – making it a real challenge and a realistic test of the Future Bus’ capabilities.

A driver still has to take the wheel when there is oncoming traffic and be ready to intervene at any time if required, in compliance with traffic regulations, but they do not need to operate the accelerator or brake at all.

At the same time, CityPilot operates the 70km/h bus in a highly efficiently manner, while simultaneously lowering the drivers’ workload and significantly improving the overall level of safety.

Drivers receive the information they require from a large screen with an innovative display in a newly designed cockpit, while the passengers are serviced by two monitors in the middle of the bus.

The 12m-long Future Bus design is based on the Citaro, but it is a departure from the model in terms of both exterior and interior design, which is divided into three zones for different lengths of stay.

Other features include seats that are loosely arranged along the walls, and nature-themed grab rails that branch upwards like trees towards the ceiling, which is lit to resemble a leaf canopy.

All of the features have been incorporated into the design with BRT in mind – both by encouraging and facilitating high volumes of passenger throughput.

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