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Don't Expect to Ride in Driverless Buses Anytime Soon

But partial autonomous technology can still improve transit systems.
A Minnesota Valley transit bus uses the shoulder on I-35W, outside Minneapolis; some of the fleet uses lane-assist technology.
A Minnesota Valley transit bus uses the shoulder on I-35W, outside Minneapolis; some of the fleet uses lane-assist technology.University of Minnesota

Driverless cars are coming. Manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and Ford and Nissan are all-in. So is Google. So is Uber. Test sites are underway around the world. Intricate road maps are being developed and idiosyncratic driver profiles are being designed. The timelines might be optimistic, what with some expecting fully autonomous autos within five years, but the outcome feels inevitable.

Driverless buses: not so much. The Center for Urban Transportation Research recently surveyed transit bus manufacturers on their autonomous vehicle (AV) technology advances. The results were sobering: