At the Exhibition Center, interested parties drive a self-driving minibus, able to avoid obstacles

At the Exhibition Center in Prague, people can try driving a self-driving minibus. (August 9, 2022)
| photo: CTK

Exhibition center spokeswoman Linda Antony said that it is necessary to book an appointment in advance on the website for the ride. As a result of renovations and events at the Exhibition Center, the route is programmed only in the lower part of the area.

The entrance fee is 100 crowns for a family, 50 crowns for individuals over 15 years old and 20 crowns for children from six to 15 years old. Seniors, disabled people and children under the age of six ride for free.

The electrically powered vehicle, which is rented and tested by the research organization PowerHUB, drives according to a predetermined route and identifies possible obstacles with the help of radar and so-called lidar, i.e. object detection using a laser. He either stops in front of them or goes around them.

According to Toufik Dallal, director of PowerHUB’s acceleration programs, similar vehicles can already be used in normal operation, provided that they are monitored by a person, either directly in the cabin or remotely with the help of cameras.

According to him, the limit applies to speed, at the Exhibition Center the maximum speed of the vehicle is around 20 kilometers per hour, the maximum is approximately 30 kilometers per hour. The price of a minibus for eight people is about six million crowns, which is due to the fact that it is a small series production.

PowerHUB is talking about testing vehicles in other areas and their eventual deployment in Prague public transport. According to Dallal, autonomous minibuses are suitable for transport in larger areas, but also in historic city centers, for example at night.

The disadvantage is the fact that there must not be too many people in the place of movement of the vehicle, because otherwise the machine will still detect them, which significantly disrupts the smoothness of the ride.

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