Paris experiments with driverless buses (Update)

January 23, 2017
The first stage of Paris' driverless bus experiment involves two vehicles and will last three months

Paris began its first experiment with driverless buses on Monday, with city officials saying they were eager to prepare for the coming "revolution" of autonomous vehicles.

Two box-shaped electric vehicles capable of carrying around 10 people have been deployed—within the safety of a special lane—on a bridge connecting two railway stations to the east of the city centre.

"Autonomous vehicles represent a revolution for every city on the planet... which will change our urban environment and public space in a spectacular fashion over the next 20 years," Paris deputy mayor Jean-Louis Missika told reporters.

The test unveiled Monday, which will last three months, is the first stage of the city's embrace of self-driving vehicles which use a combination of lasers and cameras to detect other objects and people around them.

The head of the Paris transport network, Elisabeth Borne, said she envisaged the buses being used one day to connect homes and railway stations in the suburbs, which are served by overland trains known as RERs.

"We dream one day of having buses like these parked near RER stations which would come to collect passengers on demand," she told reporters at the launch.

The advent of self-driving vehicles poses a series of regulatory, ethical and economic questions which policymakers will have to grapple with as the technology improves and grows more widespread.

Paris' driverless buses use a combination of lasers and cameras to detect other objects and people around them

One of them is: What happens to the humble bus driver?

"We need to start thinking from today about how to train drivers so they can shift into the new jobs created by autonomous vehicles," Missika, who is a transport expert in the mayor's office, told AFP.

In October, delivery drivers got an uncomfortable glimpse of the future when a self-driving truck built by Uber's Otto unit successfully delivered a beer shipment.

Cars with some autonomous functions are already on our roads, and more than a dozen automakers including BMW, Kia, Volkswagen and General Motors are racing to get fully self-driving cars to market by 2020.

Explore further: First test of driverless minibus in Paris Saturday

Related Stories

First test of driverless minibus in Paris Saturday

September 24, 2016

The French capital's transport authority will on Saturday carry out its first test of a driverless minibus, in the hope that regular routes for the hi-tech vehicles will be up and running within two years.

France gives boost to electric vehicles amid pollution peaks

December 10, 2016

The French government has announced an anti-pollution plan, including a financial boost to buy electric vehicles, as Paris and other cities in the country are emerging from a particularly severe episode of air pollution.

Recommended for you

Oceans of garbage prompt war on plastics

December 15, 2018

Faced with images of turtles smothered by plastic bags, beaches carpeted with garbage and islands of trash floating in the oceans, environmentalists say the world is waking up to the need to tackle plastic pollution at the ...

A damming trend

December 14, 2018

Hundreds of dams are being proposed for Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. The negative social and environmental consequences—affecting everything from food security to the environment—greatly outweigh the positive ...

Data from Kilauea suggests the eruption was unprecedented

December 14, 2018

A very large team of researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. has concluded that the Kilauea volcanic eruption that occurred over this past summer represented an unprecedented volcanic event. In their paper published ...

The long dry: global water supplies are shrinking

December 13, 2018

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like ...

Death near the shoreline, not life on land

December 13, 2018

Our understanding of when the very first animals started living on land is helped by identifying trace fossils—the tracks and trails left by ancient animals—in sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the continents.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.