Driverless buses will hit the road in Switzerland

Photo: Screengrab/ BestMile.

The move toward autonomous vehicle technology is continuing its forward march worldwide.

Driverless buses are expected to hit the road in Switzerland next spring, as part of a two-year trial run that will test how well the vehicles operate in real-life traffic.

The buses will have room for 9 passengers and will be the first such test of autonomous driving technology involving public transportation in Switzerland, according to The Local.

The publication reports that a startup called BestMile — launched by two graduates of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology — will operate the vehicles under the Swiss bus company, PostBus.

The grads, Anne Koymans and Raphaël Gindrat, said in a statement that their technology allows them to “control fleets of autonomous vehicles in the same way a control tower does in an airport.”

PostBus could perhaps be seen as an appropriate partner for this burgeoning era of driverless public transit.

Google, Apple Tesla and many legacy automotive brands like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are already deep into their own development in the autonomous and semi-autonomous driving space.

Mercedes-Benz earlier this year put a version of it’s driverless technnology in a production-model big-rig truck, and hit the road with it.

Volvo is hard at work on it’s own autonomous driving mechanisms, which are based in part on auto-braking features currently available in its vehicle lineup. Volvo’s work in this area is expected to span all types of vehicles from passenger cars to big-rigs.

Transportation authorities in Switzerland say the driverless buses are not meant to replace bus drivers entirely. “We will always need drivers,” PostAuto spokeswoman Valerie Gerl told the newspaper Tribune de Geneve, “we want to … link places which aren’t currently served by public transport.”

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