A driverless, electric shuttle bus is up and running at the University of Michigan and is on the drawing board for Toledo next year.
Is Lima far behind?
The bus is produced by Navya, a three-year-old company that is based in Lyon, France, and has a manufacturing facility in Saline, Michigan. Navya has shuttles running in 70 locations around the world, including Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and a 0.6-mile route in downtown Las Vegas.
Toledo is slated to get a route next year.
Lima Mayor David Berger, chairman of the Lima Automotive Task Force, is hoping to get a Navya representative to visit the city in September. Last week, Berger attended a seminar at the University of Toledo that centered on autonomous vehicles and the public sector.
“The impact of what is happening is immediate … This technology isn’t down the road. It’s here, being used now,” Berger said.
The bus, known on the Michigan campus as the Mcity shuttle, went into operation June 4. It has 11 seats and carries passengers in Michigan’s North Campus. It is guided by invisible laser beams that build a view of the surrounding environment, and GPS for localization.
The Mcity shuttle is also being used to gauge consumer acceptance of the new technology.
The university is working with J.D. Power to understand the rider’s experience as well as non-riders who interact with the shuttle as it operates on U-M’s campus. It is equipped with interior cameras and audio recordings to obtain the reactions of riders. Exterior equipment captures the reaction of others using the road.
While the shuttle runs autonomously, a conductor is on board with the ability to immediately stop the bus if necessary for safety reasons.