26 Jun 2017


The University of Michigan has acquired some interesting developments in the self-driving space. Now its dedicated research facility, Mcity, is putting some of its expertise into practice by launching the campus' first driverless shuttles.

The service will carry passengers along a nonstop two-mile route (3.2 km) connecting the university's Lurie Engineering Center and its North Campus Research Complex. Two shuttles will cover the route every 10 minutes and will operate during business hours to start, though this could be expanded down the track if things go well. An autonomous, all-electric French-made shuttle called the Nayva Arma will service the route. It is capable of carrying 15 passengers at a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), and is designed for first and last-mile transportation in places like theme parks, universities and large work sites. It uses a combination of LIDAR, GPS, onboard cameras and Wi-Fi to build a view of its environment. The vehicle is already in use in several trials around the world, most notably at a 220-hectare power plant in Western France. By deploying a couple of them this fall at Mcity, the on-campus test facility where we saw a 3D-printed autonomous car trialled in 2015, University of Michigan researchers will be looking to learn how passengers react to the vehicles, along with the responses from other road users as they find their way across campus. The team will monitor rider numbers and usage patterns, and conduct user surveys all with the aim of designing safer autonomous vehicles that can run more efficiently.

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