Self-Driving Minibus Begins Trial On The Streets of Brno

A driverless bus will soon be driving around Brno. The autonomous minibus project will begin a trial in the Moravian capital in the second half of the year. Both residents and tourists will be able to board the vehicle. Photo credit: CVD 

Brno, March 22 (BD) – Autonomous public transport has arrived in the Czech Republic. On Monday, 14 March, the first ever Czech autonomous minibus was officially unveiled, in the presence of Transport Minister Martin Kupka (ODS). The bus was created as part of the SHOW international project, supported by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme, in which the Centre for Transport Research and Brno City Council participate. 

The aim of the project is to test the viability of today’s autonomous vehicles for use as public transport, and the optimal way to operate them. “The technical side is only half of the equation, the other half is the willingness of people as users of the services provided by autonomous vehicles. A significant part of our work will focus on the attitudes of the Czech population towards these vehicles,” said Marek Vanžura from the Transport Research Centre.

Brno is a city of research and innovation, and its interest in the operation of autonomous buses is also aimed at improving traffic safety. “Since 2010, there have been 31,000 traffic accidents in Brno, with 109 people killed and 1,064 seriously injured. Improving traffic safety is an important part of improving the quality of life in Brno. Autonomous buses can significantly help with this problem in the future,” said Petr Hladík, 1st Deputy Mayor of Brno.

Ensuring absolute traffic safety is a priority. “The autonomous driving system has therefore been thoroughly tested in accordance with the most stringent requirements,” said Martin Králík, director of Roboauto. In addition, a specially trained so-called “safety driver” will be present in the vehicle at all times to ensure that the vehicle functions properly. If they feel any discomfort at the operation of the vehicle, they will take over the driving. 

Everyone will be welcome on board the autonomous minibus. “This is an absolutely unique opportunity to try out this mode of public transport, which has never been seen in the Czech Republic before. The rides will be free,” said Vanžura. Brno will not be the only city where the trial will take place. “We will gradually deploy it in several different places to test its effectiveness in different conditions and situations,” said Králík. The project developers will inform the public about the planned locations in due course.

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