Pingshan district, located northeast of downtown Shenzhen, quietly launched a new autonomous bus route a few days ago. The city is piloting this route and the public can ride for free by scanning the Panda Zhixing (熊猫智行) mini program at the departure point.
The front of the bus is made to look like a panda, with multiple sensors blending into its face. The bus is electric and has a range of 250 kilometers on one charge.
While driving, artificial intelligence algorithms calculate judgment, decision-making, planning and control of the vehicle. The Panda Bus is capable of L4 autonomous driving functions such as accurate recognition, environment sensing, autonomously planning paths and avoiding pedestrians and obstacles.
There are six levels of driving automation from zero (fully manual) to five (fully autonomous, no steering wheels or brakes needed), as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Passengers can swipe their palm to board as the vehicle is equipped with a palm print recognition system. Cameras in the car can also detect “various abnormal behaviors” such as theft, smoking and falling.
The system will record the physical characteristics of the person, and the bus operators will immediately broadcast early warnings so that the security personnel can deal with various situations and provide assistance in time.
Self-driving buses are by no means a new concept, as China has been testing the technology since 2015. However, legislation, safety and many more hurdles must be overcome before they will be adopted as a mainstream transportation option.
READ MORE: Self-Driving Buses Debut in Shenzhen
[Cover image via Shenzhen Municipal Government]