Car Industry

Mercedes-Benz's vision for the city bus involves lots of autonomy

It's rather fetching...for a bus.

Daimler
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Mercedes-Benz Future Bus

It's one hell of a fancy bus. I'd rather not imagine what fares would cost to recoup the cost of a nearly autonomous vehicle of this size.

Daimler

Last week, Mercedes-Benz dipped its toes into the world of sport with a gorgeous concept golf cart. It's keeping the theme of non-car transportation alive this week with the Future Bus, its vision for the future of public transportation.

At the heart of this concept is CityPilot, Mercedes' system for autonomous driving. It utilizes almost a dozen different cameras located on the bus, along with GPS and two different radar systems. It is reportedly capable of just about everything a normal bus is, albeit without driver intervention, including navigating through junctions with traffic lights.

In addition to street-light recognition, it's capable of stopping and unloading passengers without driver intervention. It can also drive through tunnels and recognize obstacles in the road. While a driver isn't necessary for a great deal of this, there's a seat and a wheel for the times when human intervention is necessary. It's not a fully autonomous system, but it appears to be damned close.

The interior's also been given a healthy dose of fancy materials, based on the aesthetics of city parks. There are three different zones based on how long you'll be riding the bus. The handrails and ceiling lighting are meant to resemble branches and trees in the forest, and the driver can communicate with riders by way of a large display screen.

Mercedes says CityPilot already works in the real world, covering some 20 kilometers on a test route in the Netherlands, which included tight corners, tunnels, bus stops and occasional stretches of high speed. If this is the future of the bus, we might actually be excited to ride one.