14 October 2016

Robot buses on the street

This a robot bus operating on a set route with up to nine passengers and no driver, writes Brian Byrne.

Two of them — they're electric and French made — are on test in Espoo in Finland, to see how an autonomous passenger vehicle can work alongside normal traffic.

With camera vision, laser and GPS, the 12km/h buses will be on trial for a month, following on from a test in Helsinki on a less complex route.

The project is funded by the EU, and may result in scheduled operation in some few years — likely linking people from their homes to the nearest railway station.

The two buses will later be brought to the city of Tampere for trials until winter conditions stops things.

Though driverless, they do have an engineer on board at all times, monitoring what's going on.

The developers, EasyMile, have also been demonstrating their vehicles in Norway, Switzerland, and have been on public trials in Singapore since last year.

The shuttles are manufactured by French company Ligier, long established producers of mini cars.

EasyMile specialises in developing the software and other elements for what are known as 'last mile' mobility solutions.