Meet self-driving Mercedes-Benz bus

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The Daimler Buses and its brands Mercedes-Benz and Setra are moving into the future of urban mobility solutions and bringing semi-automated driving.

The partially-autonomous Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot shows what that future will look like. It is neither a concept nor a visionary vehicle, it is reality: the town bus of tomorrow has already successfully concluded its testing in real traffic situations. By Staff Writer

The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot is making its first public journey on part of Europe’s longest BRT route (BRT = Bus Rapid Transit) in the Netherlands.

It is being presented in semi-automated driving on Airport Line 300 from Haarlem to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

At the touch of a button the bus with CityPilot drives semi-autonomously

The bus driver presses a blue key on the left-hand window sill console to activate the CityPilot. Prerequisite: The drivers feet must leave the accelerator or brake pedal, and the steering wheel must be released, as any driver activity overrides the CityPilot – the driver always retains final control, and is able to intervene. The content of the display has now changed. The lettering “Pilot” becomes visible, and the speedometer – previously shown as an instrument segment and digitally – is reduced to a digital display.

CityPilot Image Gallery

The bus is guided by camera systems, radar sensors and GPS

The next traffic light is showing red, and the bus tells its driver the distance at an early stage. The CityPilot is able to recognise the status of the light thanks to its sophisticated camera system. This is housed in a console at the lower edge of the windscreen. The technology is within the swept area of the windscreen wiper and defroster, but outside the driver’s direct field of view. Radar sensors are located further down. The bus also has GPS on board. The lights change just before the bus comes to a stop, so it promptly accelerates completely automatically and drives across the junction without stopping.

Another red traffic light – safely and gently, the bus applies its brakes automatically and comes to a stop. A number of pedestrians hurry across the road while the light is changing. The bus waits, lets them pass and only moves off when the road is clear. Its route is marked with the lettering “Lijnbus” (service bus) in the area of junctions so that car drivers do not go there by mistake.

Safe driving at 70 km/h without steering

The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus has a top speed of 70 km/h on the open road, is able to recognise obstacles and pedestrians on the road, comes to a precise halt at bus stops, opens and closes its doors, moves off automatically and communicates with traffic light systems.

Throughout the journey the driver does not need to operate the accelerator or brake at all, and only needs to take the wheel in accordance with traffic regulations when there is oncoming traffic. However, the driver is able to intervene at any time and immediately take control if required.

BRT lines are ideal for autonomous driving

The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot is ideally suitable for BRT systems, with which it is possible to resolve worldwide traffic problems in densely populated areas and metropolitan regions. It operates highly efficiently, significantly improves the level of safety and relieves driver workload. Daimler Buses is thereby developing the bus transport system of tomorrow.

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