A new electric mini bus could soon make its way to cities around the world thanks to Muji. Yes you read that right, the Japanese brand known for making minimalst consumer products has just designed a self-driving bus that can take you from point A to point B without human intervention.
Say hello to the Gacha Shuttle Bus, the first autonomous electric bus that can take on all types of weather conditions. Penned by Muji in partnership with Sensible 4, a company that specializes in self-driving technology, the autonomous bus concept aims to change the way people go from one place to another.
According to the two companies, most self-driving vehicles have the benefit of going around warm climates and temperate weather conditions. While this poses no challenge for such vehicles, heavy rain, snow and fog can be a deterrent for autonomous vehicles. Besides providing easy transport for people living in the city, Muji also said that the Gacha concept can reach remote areas or be deployed in countrysides where most of the population are seniors.
That's because the Gacha Shuttle Bus concept was specifically designed and built for all types of weather conditions, thus making it capable of going about its business despite bad weather. This particularly proved useful in Finland where the bus was conceptualized and designed under the cold, Arctic conditions.
Inside, the Gacha concept features a familiar interior design like most buses albeit miniaturized. It can seat a total of 10 passengers and still have enough room for six standing individuals. There are hand rails all around, digital displays that can show the bus' current route, as well as warm ambient lighting which makes for a cozier feel.
Powering this autonomous bus is not a diesel motor. Instead, it gets 4WD electric motors which provide 100 km worth of emissions-free crusing and a top speed of 40 km/h (autonomous). The batteries can be recharged quickly thanks to a fast charging system while wireless recharging is available as an option.
The Gacha Shuttle Bus will officially be unveiled in Helsinki, Finland in March 2019. Official operations of the self-driving bus will commence some time in 2020 after its final testing phase in several cities.