Daimler Benz unveils its fully autonomous city bus of tomorrow
The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with it’s partially-autonomous driving technology dubbed ‘CityPilot’ has been unveiled in The Netherlands by driving itself first the first time approximately 20kms through Amsterdam.
Piloting itself down a section of the longest bus line in Europe, at up to 70km/h hour, it is also capable of stopping within centimeters at bus stops and traffic lights. In the bus’ unveil, it also proves it can take off again, pass through tunnels and avoid pedestrian or obstacle collisions by braking and communicating with traffic signals.
The system is not yet at the stage of full autonomy, regarded as Stage 4, because the driver still has to monitor the vehicle’s activity, but it is a less stressful task than before. The route was between Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and the Haarlem city centre, and was chosen due to its mixture of driving environment challenges such as traffic lights, a tunnel and corners.
The functionality of CityPilot requires dedicated bus lanes, which the Future Bus assesses for suitability, alerting the driver accordingly, and commences autonomous driving once the driver activates the function by the push of a button. CityPilot technology recognises red and white traffic lights which tell the bus to either stop or go, communicating via Wi-Fi to infrastructure along the route, to retrieve traffic light information en route. The Future Bus also successfully stops at designated bus stops, automatically opens the doors for alighting passengers, while also recognising pedestrians still crossing at the intersection as traffic lights are changing, and continues to wait until they move.
To avoid collisions, CityPilot has an automatic braking system that brings the vehicle to a halt in emergency situations as required.
The stylish 12-metre long bus offers asymmetrical and sculpted lines inside and a sleek, extrusion-free exterior with no bulging side mirrors and an open-feeling airy glasshouse and minimal chassis pillars blocking window views. Based on Benz’s Citaro bus, it features a low-floor design to enable easier access. The bus’ connectivity system is integrated into its electronic ticketing system. Driver information is presented in a central display screen to minimise distraction.
It’s not the first tri-star bus to reveal ground-breaking technology in public transport. In 2003 Mercedes-Benz ran 36 hydrogen fuel cell powered Citaro buses in capital cities across Europe, accumulating over two million kilometres back in 2011.