Self-driving buses roll onto Helsinki's roads

A test in the Finnish city has self-driving buses navigating actual traffic.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
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Roll up for the driverless mystery tour.

Vantaa-kanava fi; YouTube screenshot by CNET

Now this is what we'd call a magic bus.

The city of Helsinki, in Finland, is currently testing a pair of self-driving buses "in the wild," if you will -- that is, on active city streets.

"This is actually a really big deal right now," the project's leader, Harri Santamala, told Finnish news outlet Uutiset. "There's no more than a handful of these kinds of street traffic trials taking place, if that."

The tests are among the first in the world, according to Uutiset, because Finnish law doesn't mandate that a vehicle on the streets have a driver.

The buses, which will be on the road till mid-September, could one day supplement existing public transit by shuttling riders to major lines.

They're not exactly speed demons though. The electric EZ10 bus that's being used in the test can transport up to nine people and moves at about 6 miles per hour.

The neighboring city of Vantaa used the buses during a housing fair last year, but they were kept separate from regular traffic. Similar buses are also being used in a park near Tokyo. And various other projects involve the vehicles negotiating nature parks and university campuses. A test in the Netherlands last month saw a different, Mercedes-made self-driving bus interacting with actual traffic in some instances.

The EZ10 is a cute little fella. Santamala retweeted a picture sent out by the manufacturer, France-based EasyMile:

And this YouTube video of the Vantaa project lets you ride along with some fun-loving Finns: