The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus and its semi-autonomous City Pilot driving system have tackled a 20km route in the Netherlands.
The Future Bus features a new semi-autonomous driving system known as City Pilot, which, as its name suggests, is able to work in urban environments with pedestrians and traffic lights.
That's a step beyond the likes of the Highway Pilot system on the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 and the new ProPilot system on the Nissan Serena people mover, which can only function in autopilot mode on highways.
The City Pilot system combines data from its on-board GPS receiver with vision from almost a dozen cameras, and its long- and short-range radar units to build up an accurate view of its surroundings.
The car maker claims that the City Pilot system not only improves safety, but also "improves efficiency, as its smooth, predictive driving style saves wear and tear while lowering fuel consumption and emissions", while "its smooth and even rate of travel it also improves the comfort of its passengers".
According to Mercedes-Benz, the City Pilot setup is "ideally suitable for BRT [bus rapid transit] systems", which typically have large sections of its route cordoned off from other road users.
As such, the Future Bus made its first real-world run on the 20km rapid transit route between Amsterdam's Schipol airport and the nearby town of Haarlem.
Along this route, the Future Bus was be able to steer, accelerate and brake by itself at speeds up to 70km/h. It was also able to bring itself to a halt at bus stops, automatically close and open its doors, and navigate and communicate with traffic lights.
The driver was required "to take the wheel in accordance with traffic regulations when there is oncoming traffic", and could also intervene as they saw fit.
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