Jóhannes Rúnarsson, managing director of Strætó’s bus services, hopes that there will be autonomous buses in Iceland by 2023. About half of the running costs of each Strætó bus are related to driver maintenance. It is therefore very costly to increase the number of buses and to offer more frequent journeys. The purchase of autonomous buses would be one potential way to cut costs.
Self-driving vehicles have been tested all over the world for a long time, and Jóhannes is convinced that this type of technology will have a future in public transport, and Strætó is already preparing for such an experimental project.
“We believe it is 100% safe” – he says, adding that since self-driving buses can be tested anywhere, it is best to do it in a dedicated place.
Dedicated space will constitute seventy percent of the first stage of the planned city line in the capital area.
He adds that the progress in the development of autonomous buses is rapid, although they are still limited with seats for 8-10 passengers. “We tried to get funding to try them out. Hopefully we will see some experimental projects of this type in the coming months. “
He points out that such projects are already being implemented in Oslo, Norway, and in Helsinki, Finland. There is also a driver on board in both cities. Funding for such activities is sought through grants from the European Union and other countries.