Autonomous buses set for trial in Switzerland

One of the Navya autonomous buses to be used by BestMile. Image courtesy of Navya.
One of the Navya autonomous buses to be used by BestMile. Image courtesy of Navya.

Switzerland is set to become one of the first every countries with a functional autonomous bus system.

BestMile, a start-up based in the Swiss city of Lausanne has announced that it will begin on-road, commercial trials of its unique autonomous bus system next year.

Starting in 2016 two buses produced by BestMile will transport tourists around the Old Town of Sion.

The deal to provide this unique new transport service was signed following a demonstration of BestMile’s technology at the International Transport System World Congress in France.

The company will be working with CarPostal, one of the leading public transportation providers in Switzerland. As per the collaboration, each of the buses will be painted in CarPostal’s distinctive yellow and red colour scheme.

“There is a lot of interest for driverless mobility solutions, partly thanks to Google,” Anne Koymans, co-founder of BestMile told The Local.

“Cities are interested but also public transport operators and the interest is increasing,”

Each of the self-driving buses will be electric powered, however due to their small size, can only carry a maximum of 9 passengers.

The buses themselves are produced by a separate French company called Navya specializing in autonomous electric vehicles.

Enabling this autonomous driving however was software developed as part of a two year collaborative projected between BestMile and the laboratory of urban transport systems (LUTS) from the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne).

Utilising this, the buses can reportedly autonomously navigate through traffic and other obstacles as well as read road signs.

“The algorithms developed with the EPFL will take into consideration all the different scenarios that autonomous vehicles can find. These calculations are also looking forward to satisfy the needs of transport operators and travelers such as a flexible and reliable on-demand service,” said BestMile in a statement.

Should all be successful with next year’s trial of the technology set to begin in spring, BestMile plans a more ambitious deployment into the future.