The next stop for the driverless shuttle bus is the University of Michigan

mcity navya driverless shuttle bus
Mcity

Autonomous-vehicle technology is edging its way ever so slowly into everyday use, providing safer rides for passengers and potentially huge rewards for the companies behind it. While much of the focus is on incorporating the tech into cars, many commentators believe that driverless shuttle buses will become the first widely used form of autonomous transport, likely taking passengers along predetermined routes within closed facilities such as airports, large entertainment venues, and university campuses. Such environments offer a more controlled and predictable environment and offer easier monitoring while the platform is still in its infancy.

From this fall, the University of Michigan will roll out two fully automated, all-electric buses for shuttling students around its North Campus.

The 15-seat shuttle bus is built by French firm Navya, which has been steadily honing its autonomous technology following trials in Las Vegas and Switzerland, among other places.

Navya’s vehicle features lidar, which uses invisible laser beams to help make sense of the surrounding environment, GPS for positioning, as well as a number of on-board cameras and Wi-Fi communications to collect data generated during operation.

The vehicles are being deployed as part of a deal with Mcity, the university’s 32-acre testing facility where engineers from different companies can put their autonomous-vehicle technology through its paces.

Commenting on the new driverless shuttle service, Huei Peng, director of Mcity and a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, said, “This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a critical research project that will help us understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of mobility service and how people interact with it,” adding, “The shuttles will augment [the university’s] busy campus bus service to provide another mobility option.”

The autonomous vehicles will serve a two-mile route between the Lurie Engineering Center and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road. They’ll pass by about every 10 minutes and will offer free rides to students and staff.

Mcity is hoping to gather lots of useful information about passengers’ response to riding in a driverless vehicle “as a way to gauge consumer acceptance of the technology,” and it’s also interested in the reactions of others on the road such as cyclists and pedestrians.

While the vast majority of driverless shuttle services involve small buses carrying a dozen or so passengers, we can’t help but be reminded of the much larger autonomous bus that China put on the road a couple of years back. We’re not sure how it’s doing, but we don’t expect to see the widespread use of autonomous buses that size anytime soon.

Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.