Try Berlin's new driverless bus for free
If you’re looking to get a taste of the future of transport, then you should head over to Berlin, where a driverless bus has just begun ferrying real-life passengers along a 1,2-kilometre circuit for the first time.
“See-Meile”: Berlin’s first driverless bus
The maiden voyage took place at a quarter past ten last Friday morning, as the first computer-controlled bus set off from U-Bahn Alt-Tegel. According to Berlin’s transport authority, the BVG, it is the first vehicle of its kind to drive on public roads in Germany’s capital city.
When you picture an automated vehicle, you might think in sleek lines, futuristic chrome and glass, but the BVG’s sunshine-yellow driverless bus is - there’s no other word for it - undeniably cute. Rather oddly-proportioned, it is capable of speeds of up to 15 kilometres per hour and can carry a total of six passengers at a time, as well as an attendant - just in case.
At the moment, the “See-Meile” bus is a highly automated bus, not an autonomous vehicle. That means it drives along a previously-programmed route, from which it cannot autonomously deviate. If it encounters obstacles, such as a car parked too far from the kerb, or another vehicle that suddenly stops, the yellow bus stops. The attendant then has to take over to steer the bus until it gets back on course.
You can ride the automated bus until the end of the year
Having successfully completed a passenger-free test phase at the beginning of August, the little yellow bus will now be running daily on its route between Alt-Tegel, Am Tegeler Hafen, Wilkestraße and Medebacher Weg - a stone’s throw as far as distance is concerned, certainly, but a great leap forward in innovation.
The pilot project will test how the bus performs under real traffic conditions until the end of the year, providing the BVG with important data on traffic safety. The overall aim is to test whether automated vehicles could ever join the ranks to improve Berlin’s public transport offering.
If you want to try out Berlin’s first public driverless bus, you can do so for free! It operates Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 11:00 am and from 3:00 to 6:30 pm, free of charge. On Saturday and Sunday, there are regular journeys between 10:30 am and 5:30 pm.
Thumb: Matti Blume [CC BY-SA 4.0]