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Mercedes Successfully Tests “Future Bus” Autonomous Driving Concept Vehicle in Amsterdam

The wave of the future can be found in the assisted driving and semi-autonomous driving systems that will one day develop into fully autonomous systems that will drive a vehicle without the input or intervention of a human driver. Proponents of the technology promise that computer systems can theoretically drive much more efficiently and safely than a human while simultaneously freeing the driver to engage in tasks other than keeping his or her eyes on the highway. Many evangelists for the technology promise a zero accident future once autonomous driving systems are standard on all vehicles.

It is true that Tesla and its Autopilot feature occupy a significant amount of the media attention regarding self-driving cars and trucks. While consumer targeted autonomous driving systems are certainly interesting and of interest to the general public, one could argue that these systems will have an even more significant impact when they are deployed commercially. Autonomous trucks and buses have the potential to revolutionize the way business is handled and how people and goods are transported. This future recently inched ever closer following Mercedes’s recent successful test of one of its self-driving technologies.

Self-Driving Bus Successfully Navigates the City Streets of Amsterdam

Engineers for Mercedes-Benz have developed a number of assistive and autonomous driving technologies. Its Highway Pilot system is probably already familiar to truck and other commercial drivers. The HighwayPilot system is a developing assistive driving technology that helps commercial vehicle operators drive their vehicles more safely and efficiently. While HighwayPilot is not an autonomous driving technology, its sensors, and predictive algorithms can apparently already make commercial driving on major highways safer.

However, the system that was actually used to navigate the bus through the streets of Amsterdam is one that even commercial drivers may not yet be familiar. Mercedes-Benz’s CityPilot system allowed the “Future Bus” to successfully navigate the city’s streets for twelve full miles of intense city driving. He CityPilot technology is able to semi-autonomously control city and commercial buses in the dense traffic of a city center. The technology can control a bus at speeds up to 43 miles an hour. The buses must remain in specially designated bus lanes. The system can successfully pull up to and away from bus stops, communicate with traffic signals, and automatically brake for pedestrians and other obstacles.  A human bus driver is required to oversee the system’s operation and intervene should the system make an error.

While the progress made by the CityPilot system is impressive, the system still requires a significant amount of work before it will be ready to be deployed more broadly. HighwayPilot is expected to make it to production vehicles by 2020. However, CityPilot as a platform is unlikely to make it into production vehicles in the near-term. Rather, it appears that Mercedes-Benz will integrate parts of the system piecemeal into commercial and consumer vehicles.

The Potential Benefits of Autonomous Buses in Urban Areas

City buses are particularly utilitarian in their ability to transport individuals within a city or to a distant destination. However, the combination of large commercial buses and a significant number of pedestrians in cramped urban environments is frequently a recipe for disaster. While pedestrian vehicle injuries can be inflicted by commercial buses in a broad array of situations, this risk is most pronounced when the bus makes a left-hand turn. In fact, according to NHTSA data, bus left-hand turn injuries are about twice as common as the next cause of injury.

Each year, thousands of people suffer serious injuries due to blind spots and visibility issues associated with commercial buses. However, autonomous bus pedestrian injuries could be significantly reduced through the deployment of autonomous driving technologies. Unlike a human driver who can only rely on their own eyes and ears, autonomous vehicles rely on data provided by an array of sensors. These sensors can be strategically positioned around the vehicle to better perceive pedestrians who may enter into the driver’s blind spots. Furthermore, redundant systems can be deployed to minimize the chances of a malfunction or a failure to perceive a danger. These steps could significantly reduce the number of pedestrian accidents that occur. Risks could be further mitigated by national mandatory side underride guard legislation.

Injured by a Commercial Truck or Bus?

If you have suffered a serious, life-altering injury due to a city bus or other commercial vehicle, our truck accident lawyers may be able to fight for you. Attorney Jeff Reiff has more than three decades of experience fighting for individuals injured by commercial trucks and buses. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation with our legal team call (215) 709-6940 today or contact us online through the form in the left sidebar.

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