Home Europe’s largest railway wants to self-drive you home

Europe’s largest railway wants to self-drive you home

Commuters in Germany may be able to order an autonomous car to help them arrive at the train station on time.

Deutsche Bahn, the largest railway service in Europe, has started tests aimed at helping commuters on the “final mile” of their trip, which can often be the most strenuous.

See Also: Will elderly and disabled gain the most from autonomous cars?

Instead of hailing a ludicrously expensive taxi or waiting for the potentially late bus, commuters will be able to open the Deutsche Bahn app and order an autonomous vehicle to pick them up.

Rüdiger Grube, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn, didn’t detail when the autonomous fleet would be ready. In an interview with German magazine Wirtschafts Woche, he said that autonomous functionality could also come to the company’s trains, and predicted a centralized system would run the train network sometime next decade.

Connecting public transport networks together is one of the fundamentals of most “smart city” manifestos, which gives commuters a single fare across the city. While Deutsche Bahn is focused on the “last mile” journey, it could easily branch out with a few thousand more cars to cover some of the major cities in Germany.

Europe still hasn’t approved autonomous cars

Autonomous cars are still illegal in Europe, but the EU commission recently granted a few companies the ability to test “level three” autonomy, also known as “hands off” — the next two levels are “mind off” and “driverless”, both are not allowed on public roads.

That might change in a few years though, as the pace of autonomous car adoption starts to ramp up. General Motors, Ford, PSA Group, Fiat Chrysler and almost every other major automotive company are starting to test autonomous features, either in-house or with a tech company like Google, Uber, or Lyft, which will put more pressure on governments to let tests happen on public roads.

Germany is quite far ahead in this regard, Chancellor Angela Merkel said to automakers that legal barriers may be removed and the government would be willing to invest in electric, autonomous cars in the near future.

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