Ireland’s first driver-less bus made its debut this morning ferrying passengers through Dublin city centre.
The electric-powered shuttle bus which can carry up to 15 passengers at a time was showcased on a promenade alongside traffic in the busy IFSC area in the capital.
The smart bus, brought to Ireland for European Mobility Week, is fully autonomous with sensors on all four sides detecting objects that come within a metre of it.
Meanwhile, LIDAR technology on the roof of the vehicle maps the environment around it within 400m of the pre-determined route.
“Right now we’re being given a glimpse of the future and what mobility might look like in cities,” Jamie Cudden, Director of the Smart Dublin team at Dublin City Council said.
“The technology is super advanced and you have sensors and LIDAR technology being used. The routes are pre-programmed so it’s very secure. You could argue traditional vehicles are a lot less safe by comparison.”
While the technology could legally not yet operate in shared spaces with motorists, it is thought the shuttle bus could eventually be used to carry passengers from airports and train stations to nearby destinations, as well as in rural parts of the country.
“It’s not going to be introduced in place like the city centre but it’s looking at defined routes, whether that’s getting you from one terminal to another terminal in the airport or to your end point from a train station.
“It is these types of controlled environments that you will start to see these rolled out on,” he added.
“On a campus environment like UCD it would be ideal while Dublin port could use it for ferrying from terminal to terminal.
“There are all sorts o f challenges about who can operate on roads and shared spaces but we should open up the conversations.”
Ireland is the 23rd city in the world to debut this technology.
In Germany, the town of Bad Birnbach has introduced the driverless vehicles to shuttle tourists from the local train station to nearby thermal baths while Stockholm in Sweden also uses the mobility vehicles for residential communities.
The pioneering mobility vehicle will be on display alongside electric scooters and bikes outside the Convention Centre in Dublin all day tomorrow.