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.