Day 46 – Self-driving bus

Today was one of those fantastic days where life led me to a totally unplanned and unexpected new thing, one I would never have tried outside of this challenge.

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt is a beautiful old building with one of the biggest and best collections of art in Germany. Since last year it has had a Making Van Gogh exhibit on that I’ve wanted to visit but never got round to. With the exhibition finishing this weekend I decided to get my act together and go down to the museum. It turned out I wasn’t the only one with the same idea…

A large queue of people outside on a sunny day.
There was definitely a few hundred people waiting, and more around the corner too.

I waited half an hour to see how long it would take, and after moving at a snail’s pace I eventually gave up and moved on. After walking around the corner and seeing another 100+ people, I knew I’d made the right decision – I would have been there hours. I wasn’t mad or frustrated, I could definitely have visited earlier, I actually found it really heartening to see so many people turn out to see some art.

So, walking by the river on a sunny day, I began to look around for other opportunities for a new experience. Something I’d noticed before but never given a second thought to was the transport company testing a self-driving bus up and down the riverside. I saw some people waiting at a bus stop, and realised I could try it out. New opportunity found!

A small, white and green, self-driving bus.
The tiny, six-seater, driver-less bus

I boarded this tiny bus with no driver, unsure what to expect. On board was a greeter from the transport company, who was on hand to answer any questions but didn’t operate the bus at all (I watched him closely!). The bus travelled up and down the blocked-off road, going a maximum of 15kmh, automatically beeping if there was anybody in the way, and knowing to pull over when a bus stop approached. It was so, so strange. I’m normally quite anti-automated things – I have seen far too many robots-gone-bad films – but I actually found this really interesting. I’m not sure how safe I’d find it if there was normal traffic on the road, but for a short trial, it was really cool.

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