Virtually every science fiction film ever made that depicted the future had automated cars as a feature. In the 1980’s this seemed like so much awe-inspiring technology. Even in the 90’s it was a spectacle to behold, with some films like Total Recall insisting that a robotic taxi driver was required for the equation to work.
Now, with automated vehicles a reality and slowly being rolled out across the world, we can safely say that we are living in the future. From Tesla cars that feature every bell and whistle under the sun, to slightly less flashy models, these miracles of technology are now among us. Although it is still alarming to see a motorist playing online pokies while his car handles the actual driving, we should get used to this more and more now!
But questions are still being raised about the various challenges and vague laws surrounding automated vehicles, with some rightly wondering if such technology is truly safe. Though, many seem unaware that self-driving public transportation is already being introduced in some parts of the world. Strangely, this seems to have gone unnoticed by the public at large.
Self-Driving Public Transport
It is simply widely not known that two self-driving shuttle buses were introduced onto Stockholm roads as long ago as January 2018. Although the vehicles were small and had rather unimpressive speeds of 24 km an hour, they were still travelling amongst pedestrians, cyclists and other cars. The move was done so quietly and with so little fanfare that you would swear the whole incident was kept under wraps on purpose. Either way, the move was a success.
Meanwhile in China, an entire fleet of self-driving buses has been created. The little mini-buses are sleek, stylish and more than a little startling at first glance. Where a driver should sit is nothing but more room for passengers, giving the unsettling impression that the bus is running wild. But of course, the manufacturers of the Apolong buses have assured all those concerned that the buses are completely safe.
CEO of Baidu, the company responsible for the buses was more than a little excited as he watched the 100th automated bus roll of the assembly line. He declared in an interview that 2018 would mark the start of a massive new industry; self-driving public transportation. Though, a bus able to drive without human assistance has existed in China since 2015.
But Are They Safe?
In Italy a test of a self driving bus came to an end when surrounding pine-trees interfered with the GPS system, forcing a supervisor to take over before a crash occurred. An alarming thought, and a prime example of why many are still uncertain and a little bit sceptical about autonomous vehicles- especially those that can carry a large number of passengers. But this was in 2013, and many leaps in technology have occurred since then.
One of the main reasons that many countries are eager to introduce automated buses is, in fact, because it is predicted that fatalities on the road will be dramatically reduced. In the United States, it was reported that over 32,000 deaths occurred on the road. The causes were, overwhelmingly at 94%, driver error. Naturally, predictions are that these statistics will come down the more humans are removed from the equation.
Other benefits of removing humans from the equation of public include eased traffic congestion, more efficient and reliable schedules, and perhaps overlooked, fewer complaints about rude drivers. Which is to say; some feel that the world cannot embrace automated public transport fast enough, and there is little wonder why.
Depending on your country of residence you can expect to try this type of transportation out for yourself sooner rather than later, as it looks set to transform the way we get from A to B.