The eastern French city of Lyon has become the world’s first city to introduce driverless shuttles for public transport. The driverless minibuses manufactured by the French firm Navya after a year long experiment to use the vehicle as a mode of daily transport by local residents.
The two vehicles launched by the company are fitted with high-tech equipment including laser sensors, stereo vision and GPS, can ferry around 15 passengers at a top speed of 20 kilometres an hour. The vehicles have been tested without passengers in other French cities and in Switzerland, and a trial is under way in Dubai, using a bus developed with the help of a French company.
Costing 200,000 euros (USD 225,000) a piece, the prototype of this electric vehicle was tested in the year 2013. In Lyon, the 4-metre-long buses attracted curious onlookers who took ‘selfies’ beside the vehicles, which allow passengers to stand at the front and enjoy the journey from a “driver’s eye view”.
While the buses are manufactured with latest technology, they are not capable of manoeuvring around other traffic and the routes are near a tramway where other vehicles are not allowed.
Christophe Sapet, chief executive of the Navya company which designed the buses, said
“They’re equipped with a range of detectors that allow them to know exactly where they are and to detect everything happening around them and to manage it intelligently to avoid collisions”.
Each minibus is equipped with lasers, cameras and electronic systems that detect and analyse any movement around it. Navya has taken about 30 orders for the vehicles and plans to develop larger buses able to carry 20 passengers.