Mercedes-Benz has big intentions for leading the drive toward the future of automotives. Last week the German company announced plans to use 3-D printing for all spare parts. And just yesterday, the firm not only unveiled what it believes will be the next wave of public transportation but launched its new public bus on a 12-mile demo through the streets of Amsterdam. Called Future Bus, the Mercedes-Benz prototype uses CityPilot, a driving system that has helped create the world’s first public bus that can drive autonomously.
The technology taps ten exterior cameras that scan the road as well as surrounding vehicles. According to Mercedes-Benz, the bus brings together all bits of information in a process called data fusion, creating a real-time picture of the environment, such as a bend in the road, an upcoming curb, a nearby car, or a pedestrian crossing the street.
Future Bus—which is 39 feet long and powered by a six-cylinder, 299-horsepower engine—can autonomously drive up to 43 m.p.h. yet will include a human operator as a safety precaution. That job, however, will be significantly less active than a traditional bus driver’s. A Future Bus driver will not touch the steering wheel, gas, or brake pad at any point unless required for safety concerns.
Inside the vehicle are three different zones that accommodate passengers based on the distance they will travel. In the largest portion of the cabin, dubbed the lounge, riders have the option to wirelessly charge their smartphones through charging pads. Mercedes aims to have the Future Bus in production by 2020.