If you thought driverless cars are part of a distant past, think again. In Helsinki’s Hernesaari district, self-driving buses are already taking passengers to their destinations.
Finnish laws don’t require cars to have a driver, which is why this kind of project can be initiated with relative ease, at least from a legislative standpoint.
“This is actually a really big deal right now. There’s no more than a handful of these kinds of street traffic trials taking place, if that,” said test project lead and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences project manager Harri Santamala.
It’s not the first time something like this was rolled out in Finland, as neighboring city Vantaa rolled out similar vehicles during its housing fair, though the buses were only allowed to circulate in areas shut off to other traffic. This time, it’s the real deal. Buses are tested in a challenging environment, with real drivers who can sometimes get angry and push or break circulation laws.
Authorities say that the buses, which are electric, carry up to 10 passengers and run at an average speed of 10 km/h, are not meant to replace conventional transportation, but rather to supplement it.
“Their purpose is to supplement but not to replace it. For example the goal could be to use them as a feeder service for high-volume bus or metro traffic, like Kutsuplus. In other words the mini-bus would know when the connecting service is coming and it would get you there on time,” Santamala explained.
What do you think, would you hop along a driverless bus?