Self-driving bus starts taking passengers in U.K. trial
Baku, May 16, AZERTAC
Organizers are calling it a first for autonomous transportation: computer-driven buses operating on a real route with real passengers navigating through real traffic, according to NBC.
But don’t call Edinburgh’s new autonomous buses, which begin their service today, “driverless.” They’re staffed by not just one, but two transport employees — twice the number required for a conventional bus in Scotland’s bustling capital.
It’s why this bold step toward the future of public transportation remains very much an experiment — a yearslong trial aimed as much at assuaging the public as testing new technology.
“When the technology is completely signed off, and we’re allowed to take the driver out of the cab, he’ll be able to move around the saloon, engage with passengers, check tickets, keep the service successful, that kind of thing,” said Steven Russell, 34, an innovation manager for Stagecoach Scotland, one of Britain’s largest bus operators. The company outfitted the fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV vehicles with autonomous driver technology.
But until then, passengers could be forgiven for regarding Scotland’s autonomous buses as little more than an impractical gimmick.
At a demonstration last week, the bus operator drove the bus as usual until he reached a pre-determined point on Edinburgh’s Forth Road Bridge. A light “ding” noise alerted passengers that the driver, Steven Matthew, had switched on the autopilot.
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