Germany is the latest country to get in on the autonomous bus action. This week, railway company Deutsche Bahn launched a pilot of a self-driving city bus in the town of Bad Birnach in Bavaria, taking passengers along a 700-meter (or just under half a mile) route from the train station to the center of town to the hot springs.
The free eight-minute journey marked the country’s first use of an autonomous bus within its public transportation system, according to Deutsche Welle, ushering in what is hoped to be “a new era of transport.”
The mini electric vehicle, known as EZ10, was designed by French company EasyMile and can accommodate six seated and six standing passengers. Sensors allow the bus to move along a pre-programmed route at a speed capped at 15 kilometers per hour, or about 9.3 miles per hour. The bus is not yet capable of avoiding obstacles on its own, but a human can intervene and take control of the vehicle by way of a joystick.
Deutsche Bahn hopes to roll out similar lines—as well as a private service to pick up passengers from their homes and take them to the train station—in other cities including Hamburg. Read more here.