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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Estonia launches driverless buses with ‘no major incidents’

Two driverless vehicles began being trialled in the country’s capital, Tallinn, on Saturday.

Two driverless buses are being trialled in Tallinn, Estonia, until the end of August. Credit: Arno Mikkor/EU2017EE
Two driverless buses are being trialled in Tallinn, Estonia, until the end of August. Credit: Arno Mikkor/EU2017EE

Estonia has launched a driverless bus service in Tallinn with “no major incidents”, according to authorities.

Two vehicles began being trialled in the city at the end of July on limited routes as part of Estonia’s six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union.

However, national publication ERR said that some eyewitnesses have reported a number of “near misses”.

A witness said that one of the driverless buses failed to give way to a police car with its lights flashing, while an ERR photographer observed one of the vehicles driving through a red light at a pedestrian crossing.

Although, there is no driver on board, the shuttles run with “human escorts”, who can intervene if necessary to stop the vehicle.

"The artificial intelligence must do everything, but just in case, there is a person on board, a human escort, who has a button with which they can stop the vehicle," explained Talvo Rüütelmaa, director of the Traffic Management Department of Tallinn Transport Administration.

"The artificial intelligence is designed so that if it has any doubts, it will come to a stop, so if anyone steps in front of it, it will stop in any case."

At the moment, the buses do not exceed a maximum speed of 20km/h, although they are capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h.

"People who have ridden the bus have been very pleased — they only say that it should go faster," Rüütelmaa said.

The pilot has cost around €100,000 (Dh435,320), two-thirds of which was funded by the private sector.

The shuttles are free of charge for passengers to use until the trial finishes at the end of August.

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