Easymile EZ10

A trial of self-driving buses on public roads is taking place in Helsinki following a successful pilot on closed roads.

Two electric Easymile EZ-10 buses are being tested over a one-month period in the southern Hernesaari district by the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, each with a 12-person capacity.

According to project leader Harri Santamala, the concept is designed to complement the city’s exhisting infrastructure.

“Their purpose is to supplement but not to replace [current public transport],” Santamala said.

“For example the goal could be to use them as a feeder service for high-volume bus or metro traffic. In other words the mini-bus would know when the connecting service is coming and it would get you there on time.”

Unlike most other countries, Finnish law does not require vehicles on public roads to have a driver, thus cutting much of the red tape associated with autonomous vehicle projects.

The city traffic will provide challenging scenarios for the buses to overcome, as they have to keep pace with commuters and other road users, who may not be predictable. The buses have a maximum speed of 40km/h but will travel at an average speed of 10km/h, making them unusually slow-moving vehicles during non-gridlocked times.