In what is a world first, Finland’s capital city Helsinki is trialing self-driving buses on its public roads.
For the next month, a pair of electric-powered Easymile EZ-10 vehicles are carrying up to 12 public passengers along a fixed route in Helsinki’s Hernesaari neighborhood.
The buses were previously tested on closed roads in the Netherlands and in a small Finnish town just north of Helsinki. But this trial—with autonomous buses carrying riders along public urban streets—is one of the first of its kind anywhere on the globe.
Members of the public can hop on and off at pre-defined points along the route.
Finland is one of the only countries in the world that does not legally require every vehicle on public roadways to contain a driver. Because of this feature, the country is fast becoming a popular testing site for self-driving technology.
While the vehicles could be supervised remotely, a supervisor able to manually take over the bus is on-board for the duration of the test. So far human drivers had intervened just a handful of times.
Two years ago, Helsinki embarked on a decade-long plan to make personal car ownership obsolete in the city.
Self-driving buses have the potential to be a “last mile” solution, ferrying commuters to larger transit hubs where they can access higher-volume means of travel like the city’s Metro system.
Originally published in Curbed