Prague may get driverless buses

An EU program would give one district in Prague new buses guided by GPS

Prague may participate in a program to test driverless electric buses, but legislation may need to be changed for that to happen.

The Prague 4 Town Hall approved participation in the European Union project,, the head of the Prague 4 district's energy committee, Ivo Vaněk (STAN – Tučňák), said. The Prague 4 energy committee unanimously approved the idea.

Prague would be one of eight places across Europe to participate in the European Union trial program, and it would being no cost to the city. “Prague 4 would be able to participate in the development of a completely new urban vehicle,” Vaněk told the press.

The exact route of the buses has not been determined, and the district in is communication with the police over the legal aspects of driverless vehicles. “The problem is that there is nothing relating to this in Czech legislation,” Vaněk said.

The bus has hundreds of sensors that monitor its surroundings, and it is controlled by satellites in the Global Positioning System (GPS). The bus follows a pre-planned route, and has a dispatcher on board in case the vehicle needs to be stopped for some reason.

In eight years of testing so far, there has not been a single accident, according to Vaněk, who saw a test bus in Spain. He adds that the buses will bring increased safety, efficiency and flexibility to public transportation. “The first driverless bus can be expected next year,” he said.

Electric buses have been tested several times in Prague, but always with a driver.

The driverless buses are part of an European Union project called CityMobil, which enters its third phase in 2017. The second phase began in 2012 and is set to end at the end of 2016.

The project is aimed at setting up a pilot platform for automated road transport systems in urban environments across Europe. According to the CityMobil website, automated transportation systems play a useful role in the transport mix as they can supply a good transport service in areas of low or dispersed demand, complementing the main public transport network.

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