The slow driverless bus hits Swiss roads
Driverless buses are to hit the streets of Switzerland next spring in one of the world's first public trials of such vehicles.
The two autonomous vehicles, which can carry nine passengers, will be operating in the tourist area of Sion as part of a rethinking of the country's public transportation system.
The PostBus vehicles have been created by start-up BestMile and will undergo a two-year trial run that will test how well they operate in real-life traffic.
Concepts from BestMile show that the yellow buses feature large windows and are ideal for tourists to observe the surroundings in the Sion area.
Able to run at 12mph, the electric buses are said to have the capability of navigating roads accurately and identifying obstacles and road signs.
Humans will still be involved with some aspects of the journey as the buses will be operated remotely in the same way that an airport control tower directs planes.
Mathematical algorithms will allow the smart vehicles to respond to different scenarios on the road.
BestMile was set up in January 2014 by graduates Anne Koymans and Raphaël Gindrat from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.
'The main challenge was to develop a complex system in less than one year,' Gindrat said to MailOnline Travel.
'Autonomous public transport systems will become more and more usual. The final goal is to convince people to leave their car at home when they move into town.'
The news follows a plethora of announcements from companies such as Google, Apple, Tesla and Uber, who are all developing their own self-driving cars.
Just last week Ford became the first major car maker to test autonomous vehicles at Mcity – the full-scale simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan.
The full-scale fake city provides real-world road scenarios – such as running a red light – that can't be replicated on public roads.
There are street lights, crosswalks, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, sidewalks, signs, traffic control devices – even construction barriers.
'Testing Ford's autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies,' said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development.
'This is an important step in making millions of people's lives better and improving their mobility.'