Driverless cars are the talk of the automotive industry at the moment. However, a car, is just that, a car. An EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) spinoff company, Bestmile, is looking to up the ante by launching the driverless bus in the streets of Switzerland. That's right, a bus.
Bestmile started developing the driverless electric bus a couple of years ago through the initiative of its founders, Raphael Gindrat and Anne Koysman, both are products of EPFL. The company started collaborating with EPFL's laboratory of urban transport system since fall in order to develop mathematical algorithms.
"The algorithms developed with the EPFL will take into consideration all the different scenarios that autonomous vehicles can find," Bestmile explains. "These calculations are also looking forward to satisfy the needs of transport operators and travelers such as a flexible and reliable on-demand service."
However, it was only after the EPFL spinoff participated in the International Transport System (ITS) World Congress, which was held in France, that its electric driverless bus scored a commercial project with CarPostal, a Swiss transportation company. Through the collaboration, driverless vehicles will be permitted to operate within urban areas.
Within the next two years, the buses will be field tested as autonomous shuttles in Sion, a city within Valais. The vehicles will start hitting the roads in the coming spring of 2016. Each of the vehicles will have a 9-passenger capacity.
"Ultimately, the goal of CarPostal is to complete its offer regarding public transportation, especially in remote areas," says Bestmile. "The operation of autonomous vehicles in the city of Sion is only the visible part of a much more ambitious project."
Bestmile is looking to create a manageable elastic fleet of vehicles that will not only satisfy the needs of its clientele and that of the passengers' but also be able to respond in real-time while offering low-cost with minimum risk solutions.