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18th of January 2018

Automotive



Mercedes Dreams Up the Connected School Bus of the Future

Sprinter School Bus

Sprinter School Bus

No seatbelts. Windows that required an advanced degree in quantum physics to open. And a driver who may have shocked you into realizing what might become of you if you didn’t strive for excellence each day after arriving at your destination. If this sounds like the bus in which you rode to school, rest assured that those days are long gone. And with its new Sprinter on the way, Mercedes-Benz has plans to drive the school bus even further—right into the digital age.

Although different regulations prevail in the United States, in other parts of the world the Sprinter is commonly converted for school-bus duty. So, while developing its next-generation van, one of the many applications Mercedes parent company Daimler looked at was how it could be used to transport young pupils. What it came up with would probably look to our childhood selves like something straight out of a science-fiction movie.

Imagine, as a parent, your kid waiting by the curb outside in the morning. The bus pulls up, the child steps onboard and swipes his or her pass, and you get a notification on your smartphone. You’d also receive notifications when the bus arrives at school, picks up the student at the end of the day, and drops him or her at home again. Whether the parent is present at home for those departures and arrivals or not, that real-time information could go a long way toward assuaging parental anxiety and safeguarding children’s security. Along the way, your kid could be watching educational content—approved, naturally, by the school board and PTA—instead of rambunctiously distracting the bus driver (as we did when we were young). Will your kid not be riding the bus to school one morning? Just send a message directly to the bus driver.

14_Freightliner

14_Freightliner

Mercedes isn’t putting these connectivity functions into practice just yet, but that future doesn’t seem very far off, even here in America, where Sprinters are more often dispatched to haul cargo than children. Although they were focused on their new van, the engineers we spoke to recently at Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Innovation Campus in Stuttgart, Germany, responded positively to the prospect of those same technologies being applied to U.S.-standard school buses, like those made by Thomas Built or Freightliner (above)–both divisions of Daimler Trucks North America.

Like the futures of the children on those buses, the possible applications for this technology seem virtually unlimited.

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