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Watch a Driverless Bus Putter Through the Streets

  An automated bus ran one route in a Greek city, and will soon carry passengers through a Spanish city. Is the future of mass transit driverless?  

Hop Aboard a Driverless Bus

During a six-month trial run that ends this month, residents of Trikala, Greece, have had an option that you won't see in most parts of the world: a driverless bus. During the trial the bus has had no accidents, the city reports. Passengers can hop on for free, and the bus can carry up to 10 people at a time.

Like churning butter, pumping cisterns, or having privacy, driving could soon become one of the things people used to do. Self-driving cars are moving quickly out of their infancy, and are expected to proliferate on roads once the kinks are worked out (and once they’re legalized in more places). 

When that happens, commuters will be able to lean back and let someone (or something) else get them where they’re going—just like bus riders have enjoyed for years.

But some bus riders are already experiencing an extra level of futurism by hopping aboard driverless shuttles that cruise through city streets. 

This is the case in Trikala, Greece. The above video shows how a self-driving, 10-passenger electric bus (which looks more like an airport shuttle than a city bus) from the French consortium Robosoft navigates Trikala. 

The bus moves a little slowly—maximum speed is 12.4 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour). And it can’t yet change lanes—it instead stops for any cars parked in its way. But Trikala’s mayor, Dimitris Papastergiou, says the Internet was slow and limited at first, too. “They said, this is very useless,” he says in the video above. “They say the same thing for the bus now. Never mind, we keep on going.”

The bus was on a trial run in Trikala. San Sebastian, Spain will next feature a Robosoft driverless bus. While the bus’s six accident-free months in Trikala are promising for the future of automated vehicles, an even brighter signal is how the bus got on the streets in the first place. A change to a massive international treaty has not only made the Robosoft trials possible in Europe, it’s cleared the way for driverless cars.