University Will Offer Free Rides In Driverless Shuttles On Campus Next Fall

Image courtesy of University of Michigan

Students and faculty at the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor will have another option for getting around campus next fall, when the school will offer free rides in driverless shuttles.

The university’s autonomous and connected vehicle research center Mcity will run the program, which will allow researchers to gain some insight into how such services work in the real world, as well how people react to it, “as a way to gauge consumer acceptance of the technology.”

There will be two all-electric shuttles made by Navya Arma covering a route on U-M roads every 10 minutes or so, each with room for 15 passengers. They’re equipped with lidar to sense the environment around them while moving at low speeds — they top out at 28 mph. Each vehicle also has GPS, on-board cameras, and Wi-Fi communications to capture data generated while they drive.

Cameras on the outside of the vehicles will capture the reaction and behavior of other drivers on the road, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.

“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,” said Huei Peng, director of Mcity and the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at U-M.