Are Free Driverless Buses the Way Forward for Reducing Pollution?

Feb 17 2017 Read 653 Times

With chronic air pollution on the rise in a number of European cities, we are seeing more unusual and innovative methods introduced in an attempt to reduce the problem. Paris has recently thrown its own innovation into the mix, with free driverless buses. But how do they work, and how will they benefit the city?

The benefits of the bus

It’s no secret that traffic contributes its fair share of air pollution in major cities. Places like Paris, London and Berlin have a constant flow of traffic through their central areas – and it’s taking its toll. So how will buses help? Like all public transport, buses take several people to their destination at once. It means less people travelling alone and – as a result – less cars on the road.

Because of this impact on traffic, regular buses do their bit to reduce the amount of pollutants being emitted. But they also have the drawback of their own emissions. The solution? The buses being trialled in Paris are powered by electric.

Emission free electric

The EZ10 electric vehicles will be able to carry six standing passengers as well as six seated. Produced by French company Easymile, they will initially be taking members of the public between two of Paris’ major train stations – Lyon and Austerlitz. But there is one other little detail worth mentioning. The shuttles are driverless.

Much like a tram or train, the shuttle bus will stick to a particular route. However, unlike trams and trains, it won’t require any prior infrastructure like overhead rails or even tracks. By following an exact GPS planned route, the shuttles will be able to move continually back and forth between the two destinations of Lyon and Austerlitz.

Costing it up

As an incentive to Parisians, the service will be free while it is trialled. Operator of the service, Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RAPT), has already stated its intention to make the service regular within the next two years. With significant benefits for the city in pollution reduction, we can only assume it will be free if it is expanded as planned.

Initiatives like the driverless bus work to reduce the emissions from traffic but there are also gains to be made from alternative energy sources. Wastewater is one of the less conventional sources of renewable energy. But it could have significant benefits both financially as well as environmentally, as discussed in the article ‘Converting Wastewater into Energy’.

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