By 2021, up to 50 driverless buses should grace the streets of Oslo. This digital transformation initiative will also contribute to greener transport and fewer traffic accidents.
Ruter, the mass transit company behind these, stated that the goal is to have these driverless vehicles deployed in traffic as soon as possible. The company is looking for implementing various pilot projects during which they will develop self-driving operations and test different usage scenarios.
Ruter CEO Bernt Reitan wants to have these driverless buses circulating the neighbourhoods and bus stops as feeder services for the regular bus lines. In the long-term, he sees the future in on-demand transport, offering relevant services wherever and whenever people need them.
Before all of this can become a reality, however, there is quite a challenge that is still to be overcome – the Norwegian law limits the use of autonomous vehicles on public roads. In concrete terms, the maximum speed must not exceed 12kph, and there must not be more than 6 passengers on board at any given time. Moreover, there must be an employee on board at all times to manually apply a brake whenever the situation calls for it.
This effectively rules out the option of deploying driverless buses on heavily trafficked roads.
In May, Kolumbus in Stavanger, a mass-transit company, received the first-ever license running an autonomous bus service in the city’s public roads. In other parts of the world (namely, the Catalan region in Spain), the autonomous bus Erica has been designed to let people become familiar with the technology.