Self-driving bus possible for Bismarck

As we've been hearing for some time now, the future of driving may mean no one will have their hands on the steering wheel. Bismarck appears ready to give buses without drivers a try.

City engineer Gabe Schell has been working on the concept for a while now. He's looking to introduce what could be the first self-driving vehicle in the state of North Dakota.

One Bismarck resident says she's on board. “I think it's a great concept, I think it’s fascinating technologically,” said Jenny Hallenbeck Orr, Bismarck resident. “It might be difficult for us to kinda get beyond the idea of not having a driver in the car, but I'd be willing to give it a try, maybe with a little bit of fear and trepidation.”

The city's engineering department is looking at getting a self-driving, or autonomous bus. It would run a route between downtown and the Capitol. Safety is one of the top concerns, but Schell says they won't put anything on the streets that does not prove to be safe.

“There’s no guarantee that there’s not going to be a crash, but sometimes those crashes are the person who’s driving the car hits the autonomous vehicle,” Schell said. “So it might get a bad rap from the fact that the autonomous vehicle is in a crash but it has nothing to do with that particular vehicle.”

Schell is hoping to get funding for the project, which is expected to cost about $80,000 from the North Dakota Department of Transportation. He is proposing to have the bus on a trial run from March to October of 2019.