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Swiss Residents Express Approval for Autonomous Buses

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【Summary】To date, the autonomous Navya shuttle (also known as ‘Trapizio’) has served over 12,000 passengers and provided more than 8,000 driverless rides. In the future, officials are planning to add another route to the service.

Michael Cheng    Sep 29, 2018 6:00 AM PT
Swiss Residents Express Approval for Autonomous Buses
author: Michael Cheng   

Feedback from passengers of autonomous buses is critical to development. With several pilot programs currently ongoing in major cities across the globe, such trials provide open channels for automotive companies and local residents to express their views about the future of transportation.

In Shauffhausen, Switzerland, which is the first location in the world to integrate driverless buses with public transit routes, people are starting to warm up to the daily utilization of self-driving shuttles. This is significant, as feedback came from individuals with real experience riding in autonomous buses.

Feedback from Passengers and Locals

Based on a public survey issued by Swiss Mobility Lab, most passengers of the self-driving shuttles were happy with the service. Specifically, around 60 percent of survey participants were of the view that the buses were useful. Out of all the criteria in the survey, system safety received the highest approval rating.

"[We] consider autonomous vehicles to be more than just a test object," said Bruno Schwager, director of the public transport authority of Schaffhausen.

"This benefits all public transport activities."

Individuals were also able to voice out their concerns in the survey. Overall, riders were worried about the possibility of the shuttles getting hacked during operation. Additionally, people weren't sure about how the vehicle would safely interact with pedestrians and rough weather.

Although unrelated to the ride itself, young passengers in the 18-40 age group are not in favor of self-driving buses taking the jobs human drivers. It's important to highlight that the nascent sector will generate new jobs, in the form of driverless network operators, autonomous fleet managers and more.

Trapizio Driverless Bus

Launching the project was challenging for all parties involved, including the public transport authority of Schaffhausen, AMoTech and Trapeze, because it required specific government certification. To date, the autonomous Navya shuttle (also known as ‘Trapizio') has served over 12,000 passengers and provided more than 8,000 rides. The units can hold up to 11 individuals, as it travels along a fixed route in the city. Called Route 12, the current route takes roughly 10 minutes to complete, which connects commuters to public transit stations.

Without a steering wheel, driver's cabin and pedals, the Navya units are spacious. A representative is present inside the shuttles at all times, equipped with a handheld controller for emergency situations and ready to answer questions about the service. Passengers can choose to ride sitting down or standing up.

"It's an all-autonomous bus and it's fully embedded into our public transport system here in Schaffhausen," said Peter Schneck, CEO of Trapeze, during an interview with CNN. "It allows us to drive without a driver."

"This marks the kick-off of our journey towards Stage 5 of autonomous mobility, when ultimately no person will be needed for attendance on board anymore."

In the future, officials are planning to add another route to the service. The highly anticipated route is more complex than the existing one, requiring safe passage through a 15 percent slope and a busy tourist destination. For this service, the city plans to deploy a four-wheel drive driverless shuttle.

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