Driverless School Bus

With the advances in the development of autonomous cars and systems we see more and more concepts for alternative uses. After the grocery on wheels, delivery robots, or moving offices, we see school buses redesigned as autonomous and electric vehicles.

Design studio TEAGUE too the iconic American school bus to heart and completely redesigned it. The result resembles the autonomous buses that we have seen from manufacturers such as Easymile, Navya, or Olli. Hannah, so the name of the autonomous school bus concept, could replace the 480,000 school buses in the US. Instead of fixed pickup points the bus will pick the kids up directly at their house and drop them off at school. This way the children wouldn’t have to cross streets and intersections to get to their bus stations, making the way to school safer for them. According to the NHTSA, almost two thirds of all fatal accidents between 2006 and 2015 involving school-aged children were caused by school buses.

In contrast to today’s school buses with 50 and more seats, Hannah has only space for six children. With displays on and in the bus the vehicle communicates with the kids. Facial recognition allows to identify the kids and let them into the bus. Hannah also knows what child has to be picked up where and when and can inform parents about the status via smartphone-app.

Bullying among children is one of the problems at school. How can this be avoided in a driverless bus without adult supervision? TEAGUE spoke with bullying-experts and realized that bullying happens in the cover of many kids, where adults cannot see it that well. Bullying becomes less likely in smaller groups of children, as in a bus with only six seats.

School buses are only for short times a day in use. At the beginning and end of school. The rest of the time they are standing idle on a parking lot. Autonomous school buses could moonlight as Lyft or delivery vans and therefore make better use of this resource.

The question for us is: Would we trust the lives of our children to a driverless bus?

This article has also been published in German.

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