Autonomously Driven CITY BUS FUTURE
A Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot has driven autonomously for the first time on a route of approximately 20 kilometres in Amsterdam. On a section of the longest bus rapid transit (BRT) line in Europe, the bus drives at speeds up to 70 km/h, stops to the nearest centimetres at bus stops and traffic lights, drives off again automatically, passes through tunnels, brakes for obstacles or pedestrians and communicates with traffic signals. The driver is on board and monitors the system, but with a much easier task than before. Daimler Buses is the world's first manufacturer to put a city bus into automated operation in a real-life traffic situation.
Technology enhanced safety & efficiency
The first step towards fully automated driving with buses in urban traffic consists of BRT lines with separate lanes. The Future Bus recognizes whether the route is suitable for automated driving and informs the driver accordingly. The bus driver then presses a button and CityPilot is activated. One condition is that the driver does not press the accelerator or brake pedal and does not steer, because any driver activity overrules CityPilot – the driver is always in charge of driving and can take over at any time. CityPilot comprises current assistance systems, those used in Mercedes-Benz coaches for example, as well as additional systems, some of which have been taken over from Daimler Trucks and further developed for urban traffic. The equipment includes long- and short-range radar, a large number of cameras and the satellite-controlled GPS navigation system. The intelligent connectivity of the cameras and sensors is pioneering, and allows a precise picture of the surroundings and the exact position of the bus. On the road in the Future Bus
Take Amsterdam as an example: signals from special traffic lights ahead of the bus; two red lights next to each other mean stop, two white lights one above the other mean go ahead. The white lights come on and the bus starts gently and follows its lane. CityPilot recognizes the traffic lights with its sophisticated camera system. In addition, the vehicle communicates via Wi-Fi with the route infrastructure, receiving information on traffic-light status. This means that the bus can take advantage of a “green wave” of traffic lights. Two bridges, a tunnel; the bus safely stays in its lane. After leaving the builtup area, it accelerates to the allowed 70 km/h. The maximum speed is programmed; even at this speed the driver does not steer. The bus arrives at the bus stop in automated mode. It stops, opens and closes the doors, and drives away again. Red lights ahead; the bus independently brakes gently and comes to a standstill safely. While the lights are changing, pedestrians are still crossing the road. The bus waits, lets them cross, and does not drive away until the road is clear. In order to avoid a collision, CityPilot has an automatic braking system that decelerates the vehicles as required.
BRT lines are predestined for autonomy
The advantages of BRT systems are that they are quick to establish for urban and traffic planners, as well as being inexpensive and flexible. They reduce traffic as well as exhaust and noise emissions, increase journey speeds and thus improve overall quality of life. Daimler Buses has therefore always been a pioneer of such systems.
According to experts, there are now about 180 BRT systems on all continents with a total fleet of approximately 40 000 buses. They convey some 30 million passengers every day. New BRT routes are being planned and designed all the time, with advice and support from Daimler Buses traffic experts in cities all over the world, providing a service that is unique in the industry.