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Tiny, automated bus experiment begins in Greece

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By Keith Walker
Tiny, automated bus experiment begins in Greece

Four tiny, driverless buses are on trial in the Greek city of Trikala, the first of five European cities to introduce the automated transportation.

The vehicles are part of CityMobil2, an EU-funded research project that is staging tests of automated road transport systems with self-driving buses across Europe. Each bus can carry 10 to 12 passengers along the road at speeds of up to 20 kilometers an hour, around the same speed as a milk float, but faster than a golf buggy.

“I was saying…a bus without a driver, how could it be?,” asked one elderly woman who took a trip out one of the tiny buses. “But I really enjoyed it and had no problem. It’s like a regular bus. I will use it, since it passes through my neighborhood.”

The buses are electric, silent and non-polluting.

It uses batteries to power an electric engine,” explained Vasilis Karavidas who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the buses. “It is equipped with GPS and laser and follows a predetermined route. There is no alternative to the one that we have mapped out.”

The automated buses use sensors to detect any obstacles before taking decisive action to avoid a collusion.

Some people are afraid, others hesitate,” reported euronews correspondent Apostolos Staikos. “The issue is to convince everybody, that the bus is safe. Researchers also want to see if it can coexist with cars and pedestrians. If the experiment succeeds, it might herald a new era for public transport in Europe.”