Self-driving Mercedes-Benz bus navigates 12-mile route

An autonomous bus drove a section of the longest bus rapid transit line in Europe, showing the first real-world test of the self-driving technology.

CityPilot, a Mercedes-Benz autonomous bus program, tested one of its Future Bus vehicles on about 12.4 miles of the Airport Line 300 between Amsterdam and Haarlem in the Netherlands.

The bus had to stop at traffic lights, drive through tunnels and navigate around pedestrians.

“This makes public transport safer, more efficient and more productive: More people can travel from A to B quickly, punctually and in comfort. To the benefit of all: bus operators, bus drivers and passengers,” Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, with Mercedes-Benz, said in a release.

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While there still are driver controls, the bus is a step toward fully automated technology. The bus can drive itself using extensive array of camera systems and integrated traffic signal technology that can manage it to speeds up to 43 mph.   

The bus has a striking design on the outside and in. Inside, it is separated into three sections, the front near the driver is the “service” zone; the middle area near the doors is the “express” zone for passengers on shorter trips; and at the rear is the “lounge” area for those with a longer stay.

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