Mercedes' autonomous Future Bus just drove through Amsterdam

Mercedes' autonomous Future Bus just drove through Amsterdam

BY NICK JAYNES July 18, 2016

Autonomy isn't just for cars; Mercedes-Benz has created a self-driving city bus, too.

Mercedes-Benz revealed its latest creation on Monday morning. Called the Future Bus, it's the first city bus that can drive autonomously.

Mercedes did more than just unveil the futuristic vehicle. It also sent it on a 12-mile route through the streets of Amsterdam.

The bus uses Mercedes' latest autonomous driving system called CityPilot. Like HighwayPilot, which allows the company's semi trucks to drive more safely and efficiently down freeways, CityPilot enables buses to drive partially autonomously in specially marked bus lanes up to 43 mph. All of this is achieved with a human driver onboard to monitor for safety.

Future Bus can do more than just drive in special lanes. It can also arrive at bus stops, pass through tunnels, communicate with traffic signals, and brake for obstacles and pedestrians.

Unlike HighwayPilot, which Mercedes aims to send into production vehicles by 2020, the German automaker doesn't intend to send Future Bus' CityPilot system into production in its complete form. Instead, it will implement portions of the system — like driving to and away from bus stops — into its city buses. Additionally, Mercedes wants to use semi-autonomous tech to improve the efficiency of its zero-emissions powertrains.

Future Bus does more than demo some production-intended technology; it also shows how Mercedes envisions a more comfortable, tech-heavy public transit of the future.

Specifically, in the "lounge" portion of the bus, riders can wirelessly charge their smartphones through inductive charging pads as well as check information on large displays.

There's no word as to whether future Mercedes trucks will include such distinctive exterior styling to match the underlying tech. But here's to hoping.


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