Riding the autonomous Mercedes-Benz Future Bus in Amsterdam was an incredible experience. It’s so great to see when hard work by so many passionate engineers really pays off. It was July 18th 2016 when I took a bus that drove me, and other passengers, autonomous through Amsterdam. Amsterdam is THE mobility hub in Europe, with breakthrough ideas and concepts. One of these concepts, that proved to be successful, is the Amsterdam Bus Rapid Transit line (BRT). It’s a line for Busses only and you can already find similar ones in numerous metropolitan cities worldwide, such as Istanbul, Strasbourg or all over Asia, Latin America and South Africa. As these streets are for busses only they can safely drive faster speeds and are more reliable on time as they drive up to every another minute in peak times.
Exactly for this people-mover concept Mercedes-Benz unveiled in a world premiere in Amsterdam what they developed. The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot can drive up to 70 km/h on its own and identify obstacles and pedestrians on the road, and break if necessary. But only on special Routes that were trained previously. It’s not that the Bus can drive anywhere, yet!
Experience: Riding the first autonomous Mercedes-Benz Future Bus in Amsterdam
Technology is insane these days, and therefore I was so overwhelmed to be able to be one of the first passengers of the first autonomous City Bus. Before you’re too worried, the Bus is not actually driving on its own. The Bus Driver can activate the CityPilot and the Bus takes over everything. From accelerating soft to steering even in curves and up to 70 km/h to identify objects running in front of the bus to braking in an exact distance to the pavement at a bus stop. The ride was absolutely not bumpy and it rather felt like a very experienced bus driver was driving.
As the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus is a concept vehicle the Exterior and Interior were as well futuristic. Though the Bus looks rather normal from the outside, the inside offers many advantages. There are two doors in the middle of the bus, the only ones. In the back there is a “Lounge Area”, designed for the passengers that travel longer distances with this Future City Bus. In the middle there are two big 43 inch screens displaying the upcoming stops and there were even a few wireless charging pads for Smartphones. Even if its just a quick ride or a longer one, or you are catching Pokemon, you can recharge your phone for free during the ride. If the Bus is in autonomous CityPilot Mode the interior light switches to blue, to let the passengers know. But, as this is just a Concept Vehicle we will see if this will be still available when a Bus like this becomes available, in about 5 Years from now.
Personally I’m really looking forward to this kind of developments in the near future. The drivers will be relieved of work and even though they still have to check everything, they will be kind of Bus Attendants.