It seems like Finland is one step ahead the rest of the world, technology-wise, that is. Helsinki will soon have a self-driving bus service this fall, based on a statement released by city transportation officials.
Just last August, Curbed disclosed that the city started trials the last summer using two Easymile EZ-10 vehicles that were electric powered. These can transport a maximum of 12 public passengers on a fixed path in the Hernesaari neighborhood of Helsinki. The bus will navigate through a quarter of a mile path at a leisurely speed of 7 M.P.H. or 11 kilometers per hour. In the event that an emergency happens, an operator will always be on board.
This time around, the city is finally more confident with their primary results that they decided to transition from the experimental stage to a more scheduled, regular service.
The city previously tested the buses in a small town north of Helsinki and on closed roads in Netherlands. Their urban trial, which is a first in the globe, was a success. This paved the way to a possible first – a regular self-driving transportation service. Most experts are certain that this could probably be the first true operation of self-driving transportation technology that will accommodate the public.
The officials of the city will announce the schedule, final route and launch date of the RoboBusLine later this year. They know that this technology can possibly transport transit riders directly to their houses and resolve last-mile problems. Their main objective is to increase the usage of public transit, which is also a part of their aim to create a service that is mobility-on-demand.
So far, an EU-financed joint project by transportation authorities, six biggest Finland cities and Finnish universities called Sohjoa run it. Besides the Helsinki test-runs, these minibuses have also been in Tampere and Espoo cities. They will conduct another shuttle test this August and July, and the buses will carry the passengers from the Mustikkamaa recreational island of Helsinki to Helsinki Zoo.
Because of flukes in Finland’s laws, they’ve become the frontrunner of self-driving technology. Their laws dictate that the vehicles on the streets don’t require a driver present. These trials are a part of the bigger European Union initiative known as the mySMARTLife program that strives to reduce consumption of energy and improve urban solutions to alleviate climate change.