In the Year 2050 You Could be Running for Driverless Buses

By Gerald Lynch on at

You wait an age for one bus then three come along at once. It's a saying that's rang true for every public transport user at least once. But shoddy timetabling on London buses may be on its way out -- a study into the future of transport around the capital has pointed to driverless buses going mainstream by 2050.

Transport expert Professor David Begg's report titled "A 2050 Vision for London" suggests that both the safety of and efficiency of London's transport network could be improved vastly by the introduction of driverless vehicles. Sensor-laden vehicles could drive bumper-to-bumper increasing road capacity four-fold (especially in driverless-only zones, which could include Mayor Boris Johnson's proposed orbital road tunnel), automatically braking anytime a pedestrian or cyclist veered dangerously close, potentially cutting the number of road accidents by 90 per cent.

Begg also spoke of the benefits of remote speed limiting -- making areas around schools just 10mph zones, as well as busy shopping areas like Oxford Street, allowing pedestrians to mingle with buses in relative safety.

However, all the investment in the world into TfL's fleet will mean little if the automotive industry at large hasn't also established driverless standards.

"Even though Google has been testing millions of miles in the United States (in driverless cars) we are a long way off being satisfied this type of technology can be used without being a threat to anyone," said Begg.

"If all vehicles are automated it’s easier because they speak to each other. The difficulty is what you do in the interim when only a percentage are automated and the rest are conventional.” [Standard]

Image Credit: New hybrid bus from Shutterstock.com