24 Aug 2016


Students and staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on making cars and other vehicles that could anticipate when and where you need a ride. Ford Motor Group has partnered with the university to test out an on-demand electric shuttle service, which is in the neighbourhood to pick you up.

The engineers want to have the vehicles sort of predicting where people will be so that they’ll be there before a ride is requested. Starting in September, a select group of MIT students and professors will be able to request a ride from one of these electric cars, which look more like futuristic golf carts.

Laser scanners and cameras are used  to track people as they walk by the vehicle,” Miller said. “And the purpose isn’t to track any single person but rather to get a general idea of how people are flowing throughout the campus.”

By tracking people’s patterns over time, the cars will be able to predict when and where the most pedestrian traffic is on campus.

As each car drives, it is collecting data that goes to this portable computer behind the back seat. That information eventually makes its way to Ford. The company says it wants to better understand mobility and demand in dense urban areas.

A ride is requested through a special app developed by MIT. But only 50 to 100 people currently has access to the app during the testing phase.

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