On Saturday, June 10, 2017, EvoBus introduced its semi-autonomous bus to the Czech Republic.

Driven by an autonomous system called CityPilot, the bus gave rides around its production plant in Holýšov, according to a press release by EvoBus. Based on a Mercedes-Benz, the bus is called the Future Bus.

Future Bus Source: EvoBus
Future Bus
Source: EvoBus

While autonomous driving is still not permitted in the Czech Republic, the bus has been in action in the Netherlands. The Future Bus drives the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to the city of Haarlem. The trip is approximately 20 km long, and takes about 30 minutes, according to EvoBus. Traveling at a top speed of 70 kph, the bus navigates tunnels, traffic, and traffic signals along the way.

EvoBus is a part of Daimler Buses, Europe’s largest bus manufacturers, according to Daimler Buses.

The inside of the Future Bus Source: EvoBus
The inside of the Future Bus
Source: EvoBus

“Ahead of us lies a demanding route with tight bends, no barriers to the oncoming bus lane, 22 sets of traffic lights, and three tunnels,” according to a press release by EvoBus. “It navigates the tight bends with the aforementioned precision of the CityPilot semi-automatically. . . The Vehicle to Infrastructure-System (V2I) ensures that the bus is in permanent contact with the BRT infrastructure,” according to EvoBus.

The Future Bus is able to stay in contact with its surroundings, including traffic lights, through a variety of technologies. By using multiple technologies, such as a sensor, the bus is able to ensure reliable communication, as well as improve efficiency, according to EvoBus.

One of the many sensors used on the bus. Source: EvoBus
One of the many sensors used on the bus.
Source: EvoBus

The technology of driverless cars was once science fiction, but now it is getting closer. However, it is not here yet.

“Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) told daily Hospodářské noviny that the government is interested in supporting the development of a testing center for autonomous driving and also for supporting innovative companies in that area. He is working with the Transport Ministry on a detailed funding proposal, which should be submitted to the Cabinet later this year,” according to an article published by Prague.TV.

Read the full article to learn more about the future of autonomous driving in the Czech Republic.

While governments, like the Czech Republic, may be seeking innovation, laws still prevent autonomous driving from taking place. Despite barriers, there is potential for autonomous driving in the future. Daimler Buses will invest about €200 million in the CityBus portfolio by 2020, according to a press release. This investment shows determination to further develop and employ self-driving technology.

The term autonomous driving can be misleading, and the reality is that the system is semi-autonomous. The bus still has a driver with access to the steering wheel, as well as the gas and break pedals.

Driver monitors the Future Bus Source: EvoBus
Driver monitors the Future Bus
Source: EvoBus

“The CityPilot is deactivated the moment the driver actively steers the vehicle or touches one of the pedals, meaning that the driver always retains full control of the vehicle,” according to EvoBus.

Removing drivers entirely from the process may be the future of ground transportation, for now, the driver is still necessary. There has been concern about the economic effects of driverless technologies. However, it seems that EvoBus has a different set of interests for now.

“We are convinced that we will all benefit from them: From the efficiency, environmental compatibility and safety. On top of this, the drivers encounter far less stress and, consequently, will be fully focused and alert should they ever be called into action. Bus operators save on running costs thanks to a driving style that boosts efficiency and reduces component wear. And, for passengers, the journey is safer, quicker and more comfortable than ever before,” according to a press release after their first public, semi-autonomous trip from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Haarlem.

Read the full press release by EvoBus to learn more about Future Bus, and the technology behind it.