Driverless buses are the future, as Morgan Stanley states the car of the future is shared, autonomous and electric. Which means that the introduction of driverless vehicles actually starts – and should start – with the introduction of autonomous shuttles. Such public transit vehicles are the key to ensure the liveability of cities by ensuring the appeal of the driverless car doesn’t result in an increase of the number of cars and car movements on city streets. Driverless buses are available as a 4-passenger taxi and 20-passenger mini-bus.
Safely integrating driverless buses in mixed traffic is (only) possible today when operating in a semi-controlled environment. In such environments the complexity of mixed operations is reduced through a degree of control over the four application aspects (1) speed, (2) intersections, (3) access and (4) behavior. In case of insufficient control of the complexity the only way to ensure the safety today, is by means of safety driver or steward and low(er) speeds restricting the throughput and capacity that can be realized.
The first applications of driverless buses are expected in a limited size, dedicated area. 2getthere’s Rivium system operates in a semi-controlled environment: although operating on a dedicated track, there is no control over access to the track and the behavior of other road users. The vehicles were actually used in various mixed traffic demonstrations in 2003 and 2004. The Rivium ParkShuttle serves as a benchmark for 2getthere in the study of the requirements for safe integration of automated vehicles in various environments.