GENEVA — In a first, electric-powered driverless public transport buses will soon be operating in Switzerland which will be able to ferry nine passengers at a time.

The autonomous buses will launch in the canton of Valais, thanks to a collaboration between PostBus and a Swiss startup founded by graduates from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.

Two new driverless buses will be put in service in Sion during a two-year test period from early 2016, in what is a first for Switzerland’s public transport system.

The electric-powered vehicles will be able to carry nine passengers at a time and will be in service in tourist zones in Sion’s Old Town, ‘The Local’ reported.

Installed with technology developed by Lausanne-based start-up BestMile, the distinctive vehicles will be able to navigate roads accurately, identify obstacles and read road signs.

The project is the result of a two-year joint research project conducted by BestMile and EPFL to develop the mathematical algorithms that allow driverless vehicles to deal with different scenarios on the road and be operated remotely.

The technology “offers a solution to control fleets of autonomous vehicles in the same way a control tower does in an airport,” BestMile said in a statement.

Following a six-month testing period at EPFL, the company is working with Nayva, a French specialist in sustainable mobility, to install its technology in two Navya Arma shuttles that will roam Sion. PNA/PTI