Autonomous Bus Testing On Swiss Public Roads

Switzerland is testing self-driving electric buses on public roads in the historical district of Sion, the largest city of the Canton of Valais.

by Mish

Passengers can use the buses free of charge.

Switzerland’s leading public bus operator has commenced testing self-driving buses on public roads.
These are driverless buses that are fully-electric and that can transport 11 passengers at a time. Their top speed is limited to 20 km/h (12.4 mph), but the project can improve the technology behind autonomous cars, as well as boosting acceptance of driverless vehicles.
Each shuttle will have a trained attendant on board, which will have to ensure that the vehicle is operating properly and that the passengers are safe. In the unlikely scenario that something goes wrong, the human attendant has two failsafe options, in the form of emergency stop controls.
The electric buses have an access ramp for physically challenged passengers, and air conditioning is installed. Moreover, they have been fitted with a second battery, so that travelers do not risk waiting on the side of the road if the primary accumulator runs out of “juice.”
Naturally, all of the buses will be monitored by a team of teleoperators, which will observe the actions of every vehicle in the fleet. Just like the personnel which will be on board these buses, the teleoperators have the ability to stop each and every bus from a distance, if they discover a fault which would put somebody at risk.
The new smart shuttle from PostBus also comes with a flexible timetable, which will include a few fixed stops. Passengers will be able to use an app to check whether the bus is available and if it is on the road when they want to ride it, as it only drives from Tuesday to Sunday.

Don’t Scoff

The top speed of 12.4 mph will probably bring some laughs. So will the need for public safety attendants and additional monitoring at the home base.

But don’t laugh too loudly. After all, this is 2016. By 2018, expect these buses to travel near the road speed limits.

Autonomous vehicles are now ahead of my schedule of 2020. Perhaps well ahead.

The big opportunity is trucks. Millions of long haul truck driving jobs will vanish by 2024 at the latest.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock