The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus recently successfully navigated a 20km (or around 12.4 miles) route in the Netherlands, with the help of its semi-autonomous City Pilot driving system.

This route connected Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with the nearby town of Haarlem. To make the trip, the bus had to stop at traffic lights, pass through tunnels, and navigate among pedestrians.

CityPilot, the automakers self-driving bus program, has taken an early step towards fully autonomous public transportation, even though the driver was required “to take the wheel in accordance with traffic regulations when there is oncoming traffic”, and could also intervene as the situation required.

The city bus is ideally suitable for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, with which, parent company, Daimler said it is possible to resolve worldwide traffic problems in densely populated areas and metropolitan regions. It operates highly efficiently, significantly improves the level of safety and relieves driver workload. Daimler said it is thereby developing the “bus transport system of tomorrow.”

According to Daimler, the semi-automated city bus with CityPilot shows what urban public transport will look like in the future.  It operates even more safely, efficiently and comfortably than conventional buses, the car maker said.

The CityPilot is based on the Highway Pilot of the Mercedes-Benz Actros, however it exceeds the latter’s capabilities to meet the needs of its specific area of operation.

New functions include traffic light recognition, pedestrian recognition, centimetric precision when halting at bus stops and the ability to drive semi-autonomously in tunnels.

mecedes  Mercedes-Benz Semi-Autonomous Bus Successfully Navigates 12.4-Mile Drive mercedesbus 300x149

Just under a dozen cameras scan the road and surroundings, while long and short-range radar systems constantly monitor the route ahead. There is also a GPS system. Thanks to data fusion, all the data received create an extremely precise picture and allow the bus to be positioned to within centimeters.