What we saw only in the railway system so far became reality for bus transport in autumn 2016 in Lyon: The autonomous bus trip without a driver. This has been reported by The Telegraph in its online edition of 3rd of September 2016.
Two small autonomous electric buses use railway tracks which are not open to public traffic, with a maximum speed of 10 km per hour. The vehicles offer seats for up to 15 passengers. They are equipped with many detectors in order to navigate them and to prevent collisions.
Orders for 30 more vehicles of this kind have already reached the producer Navya. Plans for larger vehicles for up to 20 passengers are in development.
What is still to be seen as a utopian ideal by many people will become a reality in other metropolitan areas as well in the near future and will dramatically change the way we move through public spaces. It will also be possible for buses to move autonomously according to demand instead of by simply following fixed timetables. This may lead to new forms of logistics in order to make the vehicles available wherever demand is expected.
It is totally open though, whether this kind of business will be adapted by transport associations, city transport companies, car producers or new suppliers like Tesla, Google, Apple etc. In any event, this very exciting drama will be unfolding soon before our eyes. We are looking forward to it