Driverless shuttles launch in Mich. after construction delay


A conductor will be on board shuttles at all times with the ability to stop the bus immediately for safety reasons. Photo credit: Mcity

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Driverless shuttles started operating at the University of Michigan’s north campus after unexpected construction delayed launch by a few months.

UM’s autonomous vehicle testing center Mcity launched the buses Monday for a one-year period in which user behavior and data will be collected via onboard cameras, Wi-Fi and lidar detection systems, according to a news release.

Organizers are calling it the first driverless shuttle project focused on user analysis. Data will be used to gauge user trust over time and to inform the design of safer vehicles.

Two shuttles — fully automated electric 11-passenger units built by French manufacturer NAVYA Technologies — will cover a one-mile round-trip route at the university’s North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor. The shuttle, free for riders, will make the route every 10 minutes 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

A conductor will be on board shuttles at all times with the ability to stop the bus immediately for safety reasons.

Construction along the shuttle’s route delayed roll-out, which was expected last fall, UM spokeswoman Susan Carney said via email. The road around the research complex was ripped up, preventing vehicle testing. About 1,000 test runs and 500 hours of testing and training were completed prior to Monday’s launch.

After 12 months, the shuttle will be assessed and the program possibly expanded depending on demand, Carney said.


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