More and more cities across the world are experimenting with driverless vehicles on public streets.
Two of the latest to conduct testing are Paris, France and Las Vegas, Nevada. The cities have used self-driving electric buses to carry passengers on short rides to try out the technology and see how humans react to it.
In Paris, two buses have been transporting passengers across a bridge between two of the city’s busiest rail stations. The vehicles, built by French company EasyMile, travel in a special safety lane created for the project. The fully electric buses can carry up to 10 people.
The testing in Paris is expected to last three months. If things go well, officials plan to launch more driverless bus lines later this year.
Jean-Louis Missika is the deputy mayor of Paris. He told reporters at a recent launch event that autonomous vehicles represent a “revolution” happening in many cities around the world.
He said self-driving technology is set to “change our urban environment and public space in a spectacular fashion over the next 20 years.”
Transportation officials say they are planning to use the bus to connect neighborhoods to rail stations around Paris. They will also help ease traffic crowding and reduce severe pollution in the city.
In Las Vegas, the city recently launched the first driverless shuttle bus in the United States.
The 12-passenger bus from French company Navya has no steering wheel or brake pedals. It uses cameras and sensors to avoid other vehicles and people while making its way down city streets.
The electric vehicles can reach a top speed of 40 kilometers per hour.
The bus operated for a two-week period along one of the busiest entertainment areas in Las Vegas. Rides during the shuttle experiment were free.
“The ride was smooth. It's clean and quiet and seats comfortably,” said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman after taking a ride.
Several autonomous shuttle buses are expected to be deployed in Las Vegas later this year to transport passengers through main areas of the city.
The estimated cost of the program is about $10,000 per month. Officials say while this might seem high, the driverless shuttles could still save the city money. The current yearly cost for a single bus and driver is about $1 million.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Words in This Story
autonomous – adj. existing separately from other things
spectacular – adj. very good or exciting
shuttle – n. vehicle that travels regularly between places
sensor – n. device that detects or senses heat, light, sound, etc.
comfortably – adj. physically well and relaxed