Driverless technology promises to revolutionise travel. Google is developing driverless cars for private use and Uber may eventually use similar – but before then, driverless vehicles will be on the roads in Switzerland.
Driverless post buses will soon operate in the Swiss canton of Valais, according to latest reports. The development derives from a new collaboration between PostBus and a Swiss startup founded by recent graduates from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.
Apart from being a spectacular country for tourism, Switzerland is a world leader in technology. A few weeks after its participation in the International Transport System World Congress in France (ITS World Congress), Swiss company BestMile signed a deal with a subsidiary of the Swiss Post. The deal will allow the operation of “autonomous” (meaning driverless) vehicles in urban areas, the company advises.
BestMile was formed in January 2014 by two EPFL graduates, Anne Koymans and Raphaël Gindrat.
“For the first time in Switzerland, locals and visitors to the city of Sion, Valais, will experience for a two-year period this new means of public transport: autonomous shuttles,” the company advises. These smart vehicles have capacity for nine passengers.”
They are due to start operating on public roads next year.
Mathematical algorithms allow driverless vehicles to identify and deal with the various scenarios they encounter and to be operated remotely – that’s the concept, anyway.
BestMile says its technology “offers a solution to control fleets of autonomous vehicles in the same way a control tower does in an airport”.
Speaking to English-language Swiss news website The Local, BestMile co-founder Koymans said it was “really exciting” that the startup had its first customer and was already in discussions with other potential customers.
“We have already participated in two big European projects but this is the first time a customer will use our platform,” she said.
“There is a lot of interest for driverless mobility solutions, partly thanks to Google.
“Cities are interested but also public transport operators and the interest is increasing.”
Written by Peter Needham