A pair of $250,000 autonomous buses began driving around an empty San Francisco Bay Area parking lot on Monday, preparing to move onto a local public road in California’s first pilot program for a self-driving vehicle without steering wheel or human operator.
California and other states are weighing the opportunities of becoming a hub of testing a technology that is seen as the future of transportation and the risks from giving up active control of a large, potentially dangerous vehicle.
In most tests of self-driving cars there is still a person seated at the steering wheel, ready to take over, although Alphabet Inc’s Waymo tested a car with no steering wheel or pedals in Austin, Texas, as early as 2015.
The bus project in San Ramon, at the Bishop Ranch office park complex, involves two 12-passenger shuttle buses from French private company EasyMile.
The project is backed by a combination of private companies and public transit and air quality authorities, with the intention of turning it into a permanent, expanded operation, said Habib Shamskhou, a program manager who strolled in front of a moving bus to show that the vehicle would notice him and react. It stopped.
In a test for reporters, one bus cruised a block-long circuit so consistently that it created a dirt track on the tarmac. More info
By Reuters www.emirates247.com