Next stop, driverless buses – The future of transport is closer than you think
As someone who works in Ericsson’s headquarters in Kista, Stockholm, I’m well served by public transport, with commuter trains and a metro system a short walk away and buses regularly passing through. Next week there will be something different, in the shape of some new, small electric buses. But if my fellow curious commuters are tempted to ask the driver for details they’ll face one small problem. There will be no drivers.
The driverless buses are part of a demonstration of the future of transport, and the general public will be invited to climb aboard for a test ride and a glimpse of how the Networked Society can transform commuting. This project shows off what we refer to as the power of triple-helix – combining strengths from government, industries and academia – and it will be the first time that driverless buses have hit the streets of Sweden.
The technology is very cool, and it raises a lot of new opportunities for the way customer service is delivered. Imagine someone on the bus who can help with seating, trip planning, or even explaining local history, someone who could help keep the bus environment in great condition to ensure the most comfortable and pleasant ride.
The future will not only change the roles of drivers, but my hope is that all vehicles will also be more connected so that they can cooperate to become more responsive to the transport needs of commuters. What point is there to have vehicles only going back and forth if they are not optimized towards the mobility needs of the people? Maybe smaller buses can complement the bigger ones. And by connecting them all, maybe it will be possible to get them more synchronized so that you can go from A to B as smoothly as possible, even when you are using more than one transport mode.
What opportunities do you see? What do you imagine the future of transport will look like?
Starting April 25, Ericsson, with Nobina and Kista Science City, will host an event of the EU project CityMobil2, featuring two driverless EasyMile buses. We do this supported by KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS), as part of Drive Sweden, a Strategic Innovation Program launched by the Swedish government that gathers leading projects from all sectors of society. Within Drive Sweden, we work closely together to make optimal use of all possibilities, but also to address the challenges that could arise along the way.
If you’re in the area, come and join us for a test ride in Kista April 25 – 29, and share your thoughts and ideas while taking a ride in what could become a part of the future of transport. But for all those who can’t attend in person, please follow @EricssonCities on Twitter and join the discussion using #KMW16.
And if you haven’t seen the vision video from Drive Sweden, it’s definitely worth a look.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Simon Moritz, Senior Researcher of Machine Learning at Ericsson.