The company’s new autonomous bus project has already been let loose out on the streets – completing a 20 km journey through Amsterdam without any human assistance.
Just two years ago, Mercedes was unveiling the Future Truck 2025 concept, a prototype that used an autonomous Highway Pilot assistance system that allowed robotic driving without human intervention at speeds up to 52.8 mph (85 km/h). Now the technology has evolved and is good enough to handle more complex situations – such as city driving – allowing its implementation in the Future Bus. The concept has a CityPilot system that will work up to speeds of 43.5 mph (70 km/h), more than enough for the crowded metropolis of the world. And because Mercedes likes to talk about practical things, instead of theoretical stuff, they set up a demonstration in Amsterdam on a section of the longest bus rapid transit (BRT) line in Europe.
The Future Bus was capable of making its way through traffic unassisted along the entire 20 km route, with all the necessary stops at the bus stops and traffic lights. It also braked whenever an obstacle presented itself, passed through tunnels, and even opened and closed the doors at every bus stop. Of course, the prototype wasn’t let loose on its own, with a safety driver on board to monitor the route. Mercedes used short- and long-range radars, cameras and GPS system – but the bus is also able to communicate with the infrastructure using a Wi-Fi connection and can even learn the status of traffic lights, meaning it could take advantage of the wave of coordinated green lights.