World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany

The world's first autonomous tram sighted in the wild in Potsdam, Germany.


(Autonomous tram in Potsdam, Germany)

The world’s first autonomous tram was launched in unspectacular style in the city of Potsdam, west of Berlin, on Friday. The Guardian was the first English-language newspaper to be offered a ride on the vehicle developed by a team of 50 computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and physicists at the German engineering company Siemens.

Fitted with multiple radar, lidar (light from a laser), and camera sensors, forming digital eyes that film the tram and its surroundings during every journey, the tram reacts to trackside signals and can respond to hazards faster than a human.

Its makers say it is some way from being commercially viable but they do expect it to contribute to the wider field of driverless technology, and have called it an important milestone on the way to autonomous driving.

Travelling in real traffic from the tram depot of Potsdam’s transport company ViP, the articulated Combino model tram whirred its way through a high-rise housing settlement in the south-eastern district of Stern on Friday, contending with bikes, prams and cars which sometimes haphazardly crossed its path during the 3.7-mile (6km) route.

(Via The Guardian.)

A tram is a bit simpler than a bus, since the route of the tram is fixed by the rails it runs on. However, this development still makes Isaac Asimov fans happy, given his prediction of autonomous buses, which he called automatobuses in his remarkable 1953 short story Sally.

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