Au­tonomously Driven CITY BUS FU­TURE

Tourism Tattler - - TRANSPORT -

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.

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