Everyone who has been on a road trip in Germany has experienced autobahns where the only speed limit is the driver’s belief in his or her driving skills. In a Bavarian small town of Bad Birnach, however, the new shuttle bus has a speed limit of 15 kmh / 9 mph. The reason is that the small bus is fully autonomous, driven by a computer.
Railway company Deutsche Bahn is behind the project which is the first in Germany where a self-driving vehicle is allowed to transport passengers. The bus drives an eight-minute route between the railway station and hot springs in the town center.
The electric vehicle has room for 12 passengers: six have seats, others have to stand.
Video by AFP shows the self-driving shuttle bus on the road in Bad Birnach.
The bus drives a predetermined route that has been taught to the autonomous driving system. Still, the vehicle must be able to avoid obstacles, like recklessly parked cars that have appeared to the route. Someone may walk right into the front of the bus while updating Instagram photos on a phone. A dog may run across the road – anything can happen.
The company that has developed the bus EZ10 and its self-driving system, EasyMile, says the vehicle can drive up to 14 hours in a single charge. The cruising speed is 20 kmh, and top speed 40 kmh. It has GPS and multiple sensors for monitoring the world around it.
Here is a video by EasyMile that introduces the driverless vehicle’s features.
News on Bad Birnach via DW.