I wrote recently about a trial of driverless buses in the Greek town of Trikala. The small, compact buses are being made by the French company CityMobil2, which is clearly a trend as another French company are about to trial similar technology in the Swiss city of Sion.
The project, which is sponsored by bus operator PostBus, will see the French company Navya supply driverless shuttle buses to the city to expand operations to a wider range of regions.
There are many places in Switzerland that are very sparsely populated, therefore rendering them uneconomic to service using traditional public transport. A driverless solution could, therefore, be just the ticket.
A driverless solution
The driverless option is designed to work on demand, therefore costing less than the timetabled solution that service better populated areas of town.
The venture is part of a two-year project being run by the Commission for Technology and Innovation, with the ultimate goal being to develop a system that can happily thrive in the complex world of urban transportation.
Each vehicle must be capable of communicating with each other, and of course others on the road, so that both safe and efficient passage is secured for all road users.
It also requires a robust system to manage the needs of users, whether that’s taking bookings or planning efficient routes. The research team believe their algorithms are capable of managing all of these in real time via a fleet management system.
The next step is to thoroughly test the buses out on closed road circuits, before then trying the buses out on the roads of Sion. The plan is to launch two driverless vehicles in the city early next year. They will operate with a maximum speed of 20 km/hr.
With this, and the Greek project, there are clear moves to try out driverless public transportation. It will be fascinating to see both whether it is technically feasible and also the benefits to the communities served.