A self-driving bus starts work in Tartu on a trial basis next week, ferrying passengers between the city center and the Estonian National Museum (ERM) on the outskirts, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported. The buses' manufacturers ask local drivers to be patient as the vehicle gets up and running.
While the Estonian-made bus is driver-less, by law an operator must be on-board at all times, who can override the automated system if needed.
Mari-Ly Klaats, board member of Auve Tech OÜ, the company that made the bus, said that: "The law requires the operator to be … inside the bus. Since this is a new route, especially at the beginning there are definitely going to be trickier places, dark corners, where, if necessary, the operator can decide whether the bus is safe to continue."
The bus carries eight, and will start taking passengers from September 2. Users are requested to be patient in the early days.
Tanel Talve, Modern Mobility transport firm told AK that: "It might be the case that some edgier drivers may not realize that we have a 'student'. I would invite people to take things with equanimity, and even with humor. Please understand that we are forming the future of urban traffic in Tartu today. And for the people who drive. The calmer and more understanding they are, the sooner we will be able to offer a real service."
If the two-month pilot project is successful, the hope is that a permanent self-driving museum bus with a greater capacity, will be rolled-out.
Ultimately, driver-less buses which travel to order and are hailed by passengers via an app, Talve told AK. The trial period will see the bus halting at fixed stops, to drop off and pick up passengers.
Tartu city authorities are putting up signage informing drivers about the bus, which has a maximum speed of 25 km/h and, manufacturers claim is safer than making the trip by car.
Editor: Andrew Whyte