Currently, there is a pair of driverless buses roaming the streets of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The vehicles can be tested without too much legal ado because the Northern European country has no law that clearly states that a public transportation vehicle must have a driver.
The project leader, Harri Santamala, declared that:
“This is actually a really big deal right now. There’s no more than a handful of these kinds of street traffic trials taking place, if that.”
According to a Finnish news outlet, the tests that are currently being made are among the first in the world. They are possible because, by Finnish law, vehicles are not legally required to have a driver.
The driverless buses will be tested until the end of September, and the team in charge of the project are hoping that the new vehicles will someday replace public transportation as we know it.
The downside of the automobiles is the fact that the driverless buses move at about 6 miles per hour. The EZ10 electric public transportation vehicle is currently tested with up to nine passengers.
Vantaa authorities used this batch of buses during a housing fair that took place last year. However, the vehicles were not introduced to regular traffic, the local authorities making sure that the roads are clear so that no accidents occur.
Similar vehicles will be soon implemented in Tokyo, on a safe park route. Other projects include driverless public transportation vehicles in university campuses, nature parks, and other such areas where the roads are empty, and the public will be willing to take a bus traveling at only 6 miles per hour.
In the Netherlands, some tests that took place last month introduced a Mercedes self-driving bus into actual traffic. The experiment was successful, but more tests are to be conducted since the vehicle only interacted with real traffic in small portions of its route.
The EZ10 bus that is currently being tested in Finland is a small vehicle, and it rather looks like an electric car meant for people standing. It has a low passenger capacity, but its compact form allows it to roam the streets without taking up too much space.
Image source: Wikipedia