Robot drivers have begun their slow takeover of southern China.
On December 2, Xinhua reports, Shenzhen’s Futian Free Trade Zone saw the maiden voyage of four Alphaba self-driving buses.
The smaller-than-average buses are currently capped at 30 kilometers per hour and restricted to three stops along a 1.2-kilometer route. During initial tests, drivers sat behind steering wheels, ready to hit the brakes or switch to manual driving if necessary.
Saturday’s test was reportedly a success as the buses passed through human-operated traffic without incident. Technology as common as cameras and GPS, and as cutting edge as lidar and controller area network analysis, allow the driverless vehicles to avoid barriers, pedestrians and other vehicles.
Shenzhen Bus Group, a municipal state-owned enterprise, partnered with Shenzhen Hailiang Technology for this landmark China Bus System of the Future (CBSF) project.
Curious to try it for yourself? Look for the green 'alphaba' signs around Futian Free Trade Zone (between Huanggang Port and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Expressway). During the testing phase, passengers will be allowed to ride for free, according to Shenzhen Bus Group. After that, you can pay via Shenzhen Tong card or by scanning a QR code.
[Images via Shenzhen Bus, Southern Metropolis Daily]