If you’re planning a summer vacation to Helsinki, Finland, you might get a tour around the city from an A.I. bus driver. According to local news outlets, the city is currently testing an autonomous bus program, which will run until mid-September.
The roaming fully electric, autonomous buses are EZ-10 Easy Mile mini-buses, the same ones that the Netherlands used in a limited capacity in March. The free-riding EZ-10 will get a fair amount of exposure in Helskini’s gentrified port town section of Hernesaari.
Here’s the kicker: They only go six miles per hour and can only hold six people. This is no autonomous Mercedes Future Bus, but it definitely beats walking.
“Their purpose is to supplement but not to replace [existing public transportation],” Harri Santamala, the man in charge of the autonomous mini-bus project, told Uutiset.
The buses will be used as a last mile service to get to and from high-volume public transit locations.
“In other words, the mini-bus would know when the connecting service is coming and it would get you there on time,” Santamala said.
The tests are part of a plan to make car ownership obsolete in Finland’s capital by 2025.
Scandinavian countries have become a hotbed of travel tests recently. The Dutch have been using more advanced autonomous technology in public transportation than nearly anywhere else in the world, and Finland and Sweden have been looking into building a hyperloop. Finland is especially well equipped as an autonomous vehicle testing ground thanks to non-existent driver laws.
Last year, another Finnish city, Vantaa, ran tests with the same buses on designated closed-off streets. The test in Helsinki will be a test of Scandinavian driver patience because, you know, the buses only go six miles per hour. That’s a far cry from the Future Bus’s 43 mph.
Regardless, it’s an exciting time to be in Helsinki. Tests like these show the future of what transportation and car ownership (or lack thereof) could look like.