After being tested during the summer in Woluwe’s park, the STIB has announced that self-driving buses (SAM-e buses) will start circulating in certain areas of Brussels. An Van Hamme, the spokesman of the STIB, has stated to Bruzz: “the vehicles are ready to be tested in new areas, with the circulation of cars, although not on the public road yet”. Thus, from All Saints Day 2019 to Carnival 2020 the SAM-e vehicles will be tested in the Solvay’s area, at Neder-over-Heembeek. According to Brieuc de Meeûs, the STIB’s CEO, the objective is “to test the vehicles in a calm and controlled area, but with the presence of other motorised vehicles”, like car parks and crossroads.
After that, around March 2020, the STIB plans to start the first rides on busier routes. In fact, it will be inaugurated an autonomous connection between the Houba-Brugmann metro station and the hospital with the same name. However, An Van Hamme specifies that this new line is still on negotiation. In fact, the STIB still needs a double authorization, from the city of Brussels and from FPS Mobility and Transports.
The SAM-e (Smart Autonomous Mobility Electric) buses are produced by EasyMile, a French company, which already operates in some cities like Lyon, Las Vegas and Oslo. Each shuttle can carry up to twelve people and it is provided with a Lidar system, for detecting obstacles. Its purpose, in Brussels, will be to directly connect the houses with the main bus, tram and metro stations.