Mercedes future bus: On line

Amsterdam (Netherlands), 18 July 2016

Although autonomous driving is currently in the review, the future belongs to him. The promise of the technology are less stress for the driver and fewer accidents. Now Mercedes ventures into an area in which the technical helpers make a lot of sense: the regular bus traffic. The study "future bus" now in Amsterdam, showed what it can do.

Autonomous country

Quite surprisingly, the self-propelled bus fails, finally, Mercedes is a major provider in the bus sector. To get best conditions for autonomous driving: always the same routes and designated stops. Demonstration of the technique of the "future bus" the manufacturer but picked up no inner-city route, but a so-called BRT line. BRT stands for "bus rapid transit" and is from a mix (loosely translated) urban and interurban routes with its own bus lane. In the specific example is a 20-kilometer section of the connection between Haarlem and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Better than any bus driver?

This line contains eleven stops, the trip takes about 30 minutes. Depending on the time of day, the cycle time varies between six and ten minutes. Partly the curves are very tight, and the oncoming lane is not structurally separated. The challenge for the industry is completed by 22 traffic lights and three tunnels. At the first stop, the driver in the semi-automatic mode changes, then he can let go of the steering wheel and take your feet off the pedals. The bus moves independently and speeds up to 70 km/h. He holds exactly in the middle of his 3.10 broad lane and deviates no more than 20 cm to the left or right. Approaching a bus stop, the bus if necessary stops automatically. During the stop, the distance to the curb is only five centimeters. Networking with the lights can their circuit for a "green wave" are influenced by, at the same time know the bus, when the traffic light turns around and can then roll out.

Not yet on the highest level

The Mercedes future bus is located according to its developers on the second of five stages on the way to the autonomous driving. Its name: partial automation lane keep function, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking assistance systems. Interesting the last point: an automatic braking is not provided with respect to standing or not unbelted passengers. So, the driver must intervene if necessary.

When does the future?

Technically based the future bus with "City pilot" on the prior two years featured Mercedes ACTROS with "highway pilot". In the "future bus" scans a scarce dozen cameras the road, plus long-distance and commuter radar system, as well as GPS data. All data combine to create an exact positioning of the bus. The well-known series of the Citaro is based on the twelve-metre vehicle. Inside, the bus is divided depending on the time spent in three zones with sitting or standing, plus large monitors in the central area of the passenger compartment. When will the "future bus" series go? In the foreseeable future, Mercedes says. Since 2011 is the second generation of the Citaro on the market, it is therefore likely that the (partially) autonomous systems here will gain gradually. (rh)