Since Google’s driverless cars hit the streets of California in 2012, autonomous vehicles have become a hot topic of discussion in the automotive market. Veteran automakers such as Ford and Nissan have since joined the race to bring the first driverless car to the consumer market. By some estimates, we might see these futuristic vehicles in dealership showrooms by 2020.
In spite of the media buzz surrounding driverless cars, we haven’t heard much about the possibility of deploying similar technology on city buses until recently.
On the one hand, this makes sense. Buses are large and cumbersome and have to carefully navigate narrow city streets in unfavorable traffic conditions. On the other hand, though, they travel on predetermined paths at relatively low speeds and never have to find parking.
With these considerations in mind, buses actually might be ideal candidates for driverless technology. In fact, some people in the public transportation industry are arguing that buses, rather than cars, are the real future of autonomous vehicles.
Well, thanks to Chinese bus manufacturer Yutong, we might not have to wait too much longer to find out.
The company, which has been developing a driverless bus since 2012, recently test drove their prototype vehicle on a 32 kilometer trek between the neighboring cities of Zhengzhou and Kaifeng.
The bus, which could be switched between autonomous and manual modes, completed the entire journey without intervention from the driver. The company says they still have quite a bit of work to do before the buses will be ready to put into service, but this first autonomous drive is a big accomplishment.
While most bus manufacturers have remained pretty ambivalent about the prospect of driverless buses, advancements such as this might encourage others to follow suit with similar projects. We’ll just have to wait and see.
For now, we’ll continue doing our part to provide our customers with the best human-operated buses on the market at extremely competitive prices. Browse our entire inventory online, or give us a call today for more information about any of the buses on our lot.