Urban Transport

Mercedes-Benz shows off the sleek self-driving bus of tomorrow

Mercedes-Benz shows off the sl...
The Future Bus is based on Mercedes-Benz's 12-m (39-ft) long Citaro
The Future Bus is based on Mercedes-Benz's 12-m (39-ft) long Citaro
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The bus is powered by a 220-kW (299-hp) Mercedes-Benz OM 936 in-line six-cylinder engine
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The bus is powered by a 220-kW (299-hp) Mercedes-Benz OM 936 in-line six-cylinder engine
The CityPilot component is a technology platform that is layered on to the vehicle
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The CityPilot component is a technology platform that is layered on to the vehicle
CityPilot gives the bus automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking functionalities
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CityPilot gives the bus automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking functionalities
The driver does not need to accelerate, brake or steer the bus, but can take control if required
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The driver does not need to accelerate, brake or steer the bus, but can take control if required
The Future Bus is based on Mercedes-Benz's 12-m (39-ft) long Citaro
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The Future Bus is based on Mercedes-Benz's 12-m (39-ft) long Citaro
The bus has a top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph)
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The bus has a top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph)
CityPilot employs ten cameras to scan the road and the vehicle's surroundings
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CityPilot employs ten cameras to scan the road and the vehicle's surroundings
Four short-range radar sensors monitor distances from 50 cm (20 in) to 10 m (33 ft) ahead of the bus
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Four short-range radar sensors monitor distances from 50 cm (20 in) to 10 m (33 ft) ahead of the bus
Two cameras look downwards so as to "read" the road surface
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Two cameras look downwards so as to "read" the road surface
Two stereo cameras with a range of up to 50 m (164 ft) provide 3D vision and obstacle recognition
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Two stereo cameras with a range of up to 50 m (164 ft) provide 3D vision and obstacle recognition
The interior design of the bus is open-plan and is said to have been inspired by city squares and parks
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The interior design of the bus is open-plan and is said to have been inspired by city squares and parks
Passengers can make use of wireless device charging
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Passengers can make use of wireless device charging
There are three different zones from which for passengers to choose based on how long they will be on the bus
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There are three different zones from which for passengers to choose based on how long they will be on the bus
An electronic ticket system is employed to speed up passenger flow
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An electronic ticket system is employed to speed up passenger flow
There are upward-branching grab rails and ceiling lights that resemble a leaf canopy
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There are upward-branching grab rails and ceiling lights that resemble a leaf canopy
A newly designed and simplified cockpit is part of the main compartment
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A newly designed and simplified cockpit is part of the main compartment
Information is presented to the driver on a large display
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Information is presented to the driver on a large display
The driver can relay information and entertainment to passengers via monitors
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The driver can relay information and entertainment to passengers via monitors

Mercedes-Benz has given us a glimpse of what the future of public transport may look like, with a demo of its Future Bus with CityPilot. The tech-filled vehicle combines connectivity, camera and radar systems and is described by Mercedes as "a milestone on the way to the autonomous city bus."

The Future Bus itself is based on the firm's 12-m (39-ft) long Citaro bus model and is powered by a 220-kW (299-hp) Mercedes-Benz OM 936 in-line six-cylinder engine. The CityPilot component is a technology platform that is layered on to the vehicle, affording it automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking functionalities. It builds upon the technology used by Mercedes' autonomous Actros truck.

The interior design of the bus is open-plan and is said to have been inspired by city squares and parks. There are three different zones that accommodate passengers based on how long they will be on the bus, with upwards-branching grab rails and ceiling lights that, the company says, resemble a leaf canopy.

While that might all be very pleasant, based on the images and video below, the bus itself doesn't seem like it will accommodate all that many passengers, as the company has chosen an open and airy layout over one that maximizes seating space.

Passengers board and alight via two sets of double-width doors halfway along the body of the bus. Green luminescent bands indicate which set of doors should be used when entering or leaving and red bands indicate which shouldn't be used. This, along with the position of the doors and an electronic ticket system, is employed to speed up passenger flow.

CityPilot gives the bus automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking functionalities
CityPilot gives the bus automated lane-keeping, longitudinal guidance, acceleration and braking functionalities

A newly designed and simplified cockpit is part of the main compartment, rather than being separated. Information is presented to drivers on a large display and they, in turn, are able to relay information and entertainment to passengers via monitors.

The bus has a top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) and the driver does not need to accelerate, brake or steer. He needs only control the bus to the extent that traffic regulations require, but can take control in the event that he needs to. In fact, CityPilot is said to improve safety by way of eliminating human error, as well as to improve efficiency and comfort through smoother driving.

The system employs 10 cameras to scan the road and the vehicle's surroundings. Four short-range radar sensors monitor distances from 50 cm (20 in) to 10 m (33 ft) ahead of the bus and two stereo cameras with a range of up to 50 m (164 ft) provide 3D vision and obstacle recognition. The route ahead is monitored by long- and short-range radar systems, while GPS, lane-tracking cameras and four cameras for global visual location are all used to determine the position of the bus within its surroundings. An additional two cameras look downwards so as to "read" the road surface and three others record aspects of the journey such as the movements of the bus and the actions of the driver.

There are upward-branching grab rails and ceiling lights that resemble a leaf canopy
There are upward-branching grab rails and ceiling lights that resemble a leaf canopy

The data from all these sources is brought together by a process known as data fusion, which creates a precise picture of the bus' situation and environment, allowing it to be maneuvered to within centimeters of objects such as curbs, according to Mercedes. The bus is able to recognize traffic lights and used them to safely negotiate junctions, recognize obstacles — including pedestrians — brake autonomously as required, and to stop and open its doors at bus stops automatically.

The Future Bus with CityPilot is being demonstrated on the Airport Line 300 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route between Amsterdam-Schiphol airport and Haarlem in the Netherlands today. BRT lines themselves are designed to facilitate rapid bus travel and are typically separate from main traffic roads, with barrier-free bus stops, their own traffic-light settings and special ticketing systems.

The 19-km (12-mi) stretch upon which the bus is being shown off is only part of the full 37.8 km (23.5 mi) Airport Line 300 and has a driving time of around 30 minutes. It features tight bends, tunnels and high speeds, as well as 11 stops and around 25 sets of traffic lights. This makes it an ideal route upon which to demonstrate the vehicle, according to the company.

The video below provides a look at the Future Bus with CityPilot.

Source: Mercedes-Benz


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8 comments
swaan
A city bus of the future with a tailpipe? Seriously MB?
bobflint
Awful lot of wasted seating space, and the cost of developing an autonomous vehicle,& yet still require to have a skilled qualified driver present at all times doesn't make sense...
Mindbreaker
Poor thinking: 1. Limiting to electronic payment is foolish and harmful. Electronic payment means in an emergency you may not be able to use the bus. Don't have your phone linked to your bank account? You don't get to ride the bus. Too young to have a bank account? No bus. Don't have a smartphone or don't know how to use it. No bus. Dead phone battery. No bus. 2. Driver can't stop people at the entry bringing things aboard that are banned from the bus when the entry is so far back...like lit cigarettes, pets, open beer cans, etc. 3. Glass that far down the side would make the bus very vulnerable to vehicles penetrating the bus and killing or maiming occupants. 4. Slow top speed insures that people will do anything to avoid taking the bus. 5. Few seats means the bus can't support itself and becomes a burden on the taxpayer. 6. If people are forced to use an app to pay for the bus, that makes it that much easier for them to learn to use uber or other ride sharing apps. Virtually every change they made was just plain stupid reducing ridership, safety, and utility, and, if adopted, hastens the demise of the bus. Face it, the bus is pretty much perfected. The only renaming things to be done are intelligent 4-wheel steering (buses have a lot of difficulty and issues with other drivers pulling in and out of bus stops. being able to drive sideways gets them in and out quickly. It also meas better and quicker turns), and fully electric...though I think the natural gas powered buses are fine. Ultimately, though I think electric will be cheaper. Also 4-wheel steering and electric are more compatible than internal combustion and 4-wheel steering because motors can be in the wheels. And if anything, buses need to be strengthened. Aluminum sides need to be banned. They are too weak. A recent bus collision with a "duck" (an amphibious bus) showed that very clearly.
gizmowiz
You must be kidding this is a bus of tomorrow with a diesel engine? What a joke.
Howe
Mind breaker said everything (& then some) of what I was gonna say. Also, cheesy video.
habakak
Off course this is never going to happen. The city bus of the future will be autonomous and electric. And it will have regular seating because you know, economics.
highlandboy
Top speed of 70kmh and it runs on a link with "high speeds"? Sounds like a recipe for congestion.
jetserf
Very slick. @gizmowiz Diesel is very efficient compared to gasoline. Who is to say they won't use the same self driving tech later on with a different power source?