Self-driving bus services have been tested in Tallinn



Two types of self-driving buses are being tested in Estonia this week, which are revolutionizing public transport in Europe.

One of the services in Tech-Savvy Estonia, which is often used as a testing ground for innovations, provides free travel around a park in the capital Tallinn.

The latter is part of the EU funded project and is crowding around the Ulemist City, a large business complex located close to the city's main airport.

Estonians, known as "e-Estonia", the 1.3 million EU member known as the Trailblazer in technology, already have Skype, TransferWise, e-voting, and delivery robots.

The first project was a joint initiative of Tallinn City officials, Tallinn University of Technology (ALTEC), and French City Nova.

Tallinn's deputy mayor, Andrei Novikov, said in a statement that it expects "more environmentally friendly and smarter public transport."

University students are bus operators and guides during the ride, and the bus uses GPS to walk the pre-programmed route at Kadriorg Park.

It includes cameras and LIDAR, devices that measure distance through laser light.

Under the virus restrictions, no more than four passengers are allowed on board, and a hand sanitizer bottle is located near the door.

However, the bus is very popular.

21-year-old bus operator and Taltech student Hagar Nutcart says there are frequent queues to use it.

Carol and John, a 40-year-old couple riding, said the bus was perfect for parks or campuses.

"I think it's a little slow to use as public transport," John said.

Carol said: "It responds to every little thing. It makes the journey longer. But it's only a matter of time until it makes sense."

The plan is to eventually run the buses without operators, although the intermediate step is to get operators to drive them from home, Natkur said.

It is not difficult to drive the Nutkert bus, but the response to small objects - even the leaves of trees or birds flying on the road - can pose potential obstacles.

The second test is part of the EU-funded FABULOUS (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation System).

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