“The coming age of driverless cars has typically centered on Silicon Valley highfliers like Tesla, Uber and Google, which have showcased their autonomous driving technology in luxury sedans and sport utility vehicles costing $100,000 or more. But across Europe, fledgling driverless projects like those by Deutsche Bahn are instead focused on utilitarian self-driving vehicles for mass transit that barely exceed walking pace.
“Forgoing the latest automotive trends of aerodynamics and style, European transportation groups and city planners are instead aiming to connect these unglamorous driverless vehicles to existing public transportation networks of subways and buses. The goal is to eventually offer on-demand driverless services to those who cannot afford the latest expensive offerings from Tesla and others.
“While cities in the United States — including Ann Arbor, Mich., and Las Vegas — have tested some of these mass transit driverless vehicles, Europe is a particular hotbed of this activity. That is because of the region’s densely packed urban areas and decades-old and widely used public transit systems, which often include subways, trains and buses.”
“In total, more than 20 pilot or existing public transport programs have taken place in Europe involving autonomous vehicles, according to a review by The New York Times. Most of these projects have received government funding, tapping into local research institutions and tech start-ups that are not household names.”