If the self-driving buses concept ever becomes a reality, it could be a game changer for all public transport. But does this mean that your child’s school bus may not have a driver in the future?

Science fiction is replete with scenes and incidents of driverless vehicles. Take, for example, Jurassic Park. The cars making the rounds of the fictional dinosaur park were driverless ones, fitted with voice controls and GPS-routing. Or Minority Report, set in the year 2054 with a network of driverless cars and the protagonist’s self-colouring Lexus wending its way about town on its own steam.

Why are we bringing up fantastic concepts in driving now? Because driverless transportation is about to become the reality of our times. Just ask Tesla or Uber – Tesla is in the advanced stages of developing its first autopilot Tesla electric car , while cab company Uber is testing driverless taxis in Pittsburgh . Meanwhile, automobile company Navya is operating self-driving shuttles on the University of Michigan campus since last year, and TransDev is about to put out its first electric minibus in Florida. This, despite Navya crashing its eight-member electric car on a Las Vegas street while on its debut ride last year.

So does this mean that buses in the future will be fully automated and without a driver at the helm? As a parent, does it occur to you that your child’s school bus might be part of the driverless-electric-automated network of future transportation?

If you’re concerned, we really don’t blame you.

Whether your child takes a battered old used school bus or a brand new vehicle, you are confident that they are safe. You know the bus driver personally, and you know they would never jeopardize students’ safety. We’re not saying that ever school bus that goes without a driver is doomed for a crash – but doesn’t it ease your mind to know that your child will not entirely be at the mercy of fancy technology with no human intervention?

  • An experienced school bus driver is an important part of your child’s school life. In many cases, the driver is the first point of contact for parents if the school bus is late or if your child is not on it for some reason.
  • Since the driver takes the same route every day, they know all the kids who clamber aboard, and where each child lives. In case your child is ill or missing from the school premises when it’s time to take the school bus, the driver can be vigilant enough to alert you and the authorities.
  • There is no way to determine if your child is safe en route to school. Another car might back into the bus, a jaywalker might necessitate the sudden application of brakes. Imagine if the school bus had no driver to navigate the bus at such times. Automated bus technology is designed to be more reactive than intuitive – and like the case of the Navya crash in Las Vegas, the bus might just stall or stop moving in case of a collision.

All in all, as a parent, you might probably breathe easier when automated and driverless buses have been tested for years before you let your child aboard one!

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