Paris is looking at ways to deal with pollution and congestion by trialling new driverless mini buses. The shuttle service links two train stations and each mini bus can carry 12 passengers – six sitting and six standing.
They will run as part of a trial in the City of Lights between Lyon and Austerlitz for the next two months, before officials will decide whether the system should be longer term, or rolled out on a more widespread basis.
The buses simply run back and forth in a single traffic lane, just like a tram. However, unlike trams, they do not require extra infrastructure to be installed before they can operate.
They are operating for free and will be running seven days per week until the trial ends at the beginning of April. The buses will be operating at speeds of 25mph. Jean-Louis Missika, a Paris deputy mayor said he fully expected such innovative self driving vehicles to totally change the urban landscape within the next two decades.
The EZ10 vehicles have already been tested across the globe, including in the US, Finland, Singapore and Japan. The driverless buses are part of a global phenomenon, with numerous tests of driverless cars currently taking place.
Advocates of driverless vehicles say that they provide the possibility to make roads across the world safer, as well as cutting pollution. However, there have also been safety fears about driverless vehicles, as well as concerns that they could lead to fewer jobs being available for people such as taxi drivers.
At a meeting of the World Economic Forum, politicians and business chiefs were warned that the technology could threaten millions of jobs. Companies were told that they must start thinking about the potential impact of the new technology, which could put professional drivers out of a job.