Mercedes-Benz presents autonomous bus concept
Daimler Group has presented and tested a working prototype of a city bus featuring a progressive interior and exterior design and the CityPilot self-driving system.
The Future Bus concept was unveiled and tested on Europe’s longest bus rapid transit (BRT) line in the Netherlands, and has driven autonomously on a route of approximately 20 kilometers in Amsterdam, driving at speeds of up to 70 km/h.
The Future Bus is capable of passing through tunnels, braking for obstacles or pedestrians and communicating with traffic signals. The driver is on board and monitors the system, but with a much easier task than before.
For the concept, Daimler Buses team has developed a specific design for both the exterior and interior.
The twelve meter long bus, based on the Citaro production vehicle, features an asymmetrical and more modern exterior design.
The interior is open and light and is characterized by a completely low and flat floor, which is divided into three areas: the “service” area is at the front near the driver; the “express” area for short journeys with a focus on standing room and quick passenger flow is in the middle.
Behind that is a “lounge” area where passengers can spend more time. Their smartphones can be charged wirelessly.
The completely redesigned cockpit is an integrated part of the whole space. The driver receives the required information on a large display in an innovative presentation style, and can concentrate fully on his or her core tasks.
An electronic ticket system dispenses with the conventional selling and checking of tickets by the driver.
Daimler Buses will invest approximately €200 million in the further development of its city-bus portfolio by 2020, following the development path of Daimler Trucks.
The plan is to bring Highway Pilot to production series by the end of the decade.
Below we report the official video documenting the debut of the Future Bus as well as additional details on the CityPilot system.
From the official Press Release:
The CityPilot system
The first step towards fully automated driving with buses in urban traffic consists of BRT lines with separate lanes. The Future Bus recognizes whether the route is suitable for automated driving and informs the driver accordingly. The bus driver then presses a button and CityPilot is activated. One condition is that the driver does not press the accelerator or brake pedal and does not steer, because any driver activity overrules CityPilot – the driver is always in charge of driving and can take over at any time. CityPilot comprises current assistance systems, those used in Mercedes-Benz coaches for example, as well as additional systems, some of which have been taken over from Daimler Trucks and further developed for urban traffic. The equipment includes long- and short-range radar, a large number of cameras and the satellite-controlled GPS navigation system. The intelligent connectivity of the cameras and sensors is pioneering, and allows a precise picture of the surroundings and the exact position of the bus.
Take Amsterdam as an example: signals from special traffic lights ahead of the bus. Two red lights next to each other mean stop, two white lights one above the other mean go ahead. The white lights come on and the bus starts gently and follows its lane. CityPilot recognizes the traffic lights with its sophisticated camera system. In addition, the vehicle communicates via Wi-Fi with the route infrastructure, receiving information on traffic-light status. This means that the bus can take advantage of a “green wave” of traffic lights. Two bridges, a tunnel. The bus safely stays in its lane. After leaving the built-up area, it accelerates to the allowed 70 km/h. The maximum speed is programmed; even at this speed the driver does not steer. The bus arrives at the bus stop in automated mode. It stops, opens and closes the doors, and drives away again. Red lights ahead; the bus independently brakes gently and comes to a standstill safely. While the lights are changing, pedestrians are still crossing the road. The bus waits, lets them cross, and does not drive away until the road is clear. In order to avoid a collision, CityPilot has an automatic braking system that decelerates the vehicles as required.
BRT lines are predestined for autonomous driving
A constant route in a separate lane, a clearly defined schedule, clear and identical procedures at bus stops: public-transport buses on BRT lines are predestined for autonomous driving. That is why Daimler Buses sent its Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot on its first journey on a section of Europe’s longest BRT line in Amsterdam. It connects Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport with the city of Haarlem. The nearly 20-kilometer route presents the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with a genuine challenge: It has plenty of bends, passes through tunnels and traffic lights. Thanks to CityPilot technology, the bus easily masters the route.
The advantages of BRT systems are that they are quick to establish for urban and traffic planners, as well as being inexpensive and flexible. They reduce traffic as well as exhaust and noise emissions, increase journey speeds and thus improve the overall quality of life. Daimler Buses has therefore always been a pioneer of such systems. According to experts, there are now about 180 BRT systems on all continents with a total fleet of approximately 40 000 buses. They convey some 30 million passengers every day. New BRT routes are being planned and designed all the time, with advice and support from Daimler Buses traffic experts in cities all over the world, providing a service that is unique in the industry. Above all, South America is regarded as a BRT region; its rapidly growing metropolises are making good use of BRT systems.
(Source: Daimler Buses)