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Self-driving technology and school buses

Many kids get to and from school via school bus. Statistics point to this form of travel being a relatively safe one for children. Federal data suggests that kids have a significantly higher likelihood of getting safely to school on a school bus than they do if their parents transport them. However, accidents do sometimes occur which result in children getting hurt while riding in or getting on or off of a school bus.

So, what sorts of safety technology and other technology such buses have can be an important issue. One type of technology that could raise some interesting possibilities in the realm of school bus travel is self- driving technology.

As a Wired article noted, a design studio recently came up with a concept design for a self-driving school bus. There are a lot of interesting and important questions raised by the idea of a self-driving school bus, including questions regarding sorts of impacts self-driving technology becoming widespread on buses would have on:

  • The size of school buses.
  • How school buses pick up and drop off kids.
  • How safe kids are when riding a school bus.
  • How safe kids are when getting on or leaving a school bus.

How would you feel about the idea of your child taking a self-driving school bus?

Now, we are still a ways off from fully self-driving vehicles having a regular presence on the roads. And it seems likely that self-driving school buses would be even farther off than other self-driving vehicles.

For one, school buses often tend to be one of the last types of vehicles that new technologies get integrated into. A lot of factors are at play in this including, school budgets.

Other things that could delay self-driving technology being used in a widespread way when it comes to school buses are that:

  • Trust in such technology would likely have to be pretty high for parents to let their kids ride a self-driving bus.
  • School bus drivers don’t only serve a driving role on buses, but also a supervisory role when it comes to the students aboard.

One wonders, once fully self-driving cars do become commonplace out on the roads, how long it will take the technology to make the jump to school buses. One also wonders what sorts of technological additions such buses will see prior to that point.

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