There’s no denying that autonomous driving technology will play a significant role in the future of the automotive industry. But how will it impact public transportation, specifically?

We may soon have a glimpse of the future in a somewhat unexpected place: Switzerland. There, startup BestMile has unveiled a self-driving bus that the authorities plan to put into action in 2016.

Autonomous Bus

BestMile’s autonomous bus system, which has been compared to an airport control tower’s functionality, is the result of an ongoing partnership with PostBus, one of Europe’s largest bus operators.

The autonomous buses run entirely on electricity. According to BestMile, they’re able to navigate traffic and avoid pedestrians and other obstacles in a safe and efficient way. The most fascinating part of the system is the way BestMile can use its unique software to remotely control its entire fleet of autonomous buses.

Initial testing of the BestMile bus system will begin next spring in the city of Sion. BestMile, PortBus, and the pertinent authorities say they plan to evaluate the system’s success after about two years.

Anne Koymans, BestMile’s cofounder, is confident the system will be successful. She’s also well aware of the need for autonomous technology, which promises to make roadways both more efficient and safer.

“There is a lot of interest for driverless mobility solutions,” Koymans said. “Cities are interested but also public transport operators and the interest is increasing.”

Koymans adds that BestMile – unlike many other automotive companies exploring self-driving technology – is focused exclusively on public transportation.