- The University of Michigan plans to implement a self-driving shuttle system along a two-mile route at its North Campus, Campus Technology reports.
- The campus is home to the institution's 32-acre Mcity testing site for connected and automated vehicles, and the free shuttle service will offer students and faculty the ability to use two 15-passenger electric shuttles from French company NAVYA.
- The service offers benefits to the Mcity research, as well, gathering data from "ridership and usage patterns," in addition to user experience surveys.
The ARMA shuttles to be used by the university operate via multi-sensor technology that transmits data from LIDAR distance and positioning sensors, GPS RTK satellite navigation, an odometer, and camera stereovision to navigate obstacles and respond to road signs, lights and other environmental cues, according to Campus Technology.
From a monetary standpoint, a self-driving electric shuttle system could save an institution money from both a fuel and staff perspective. More automation in campus offices such as the bursar and financial aid has already been suggested as a way to cut overhead costs, as well as meeting the needs of growing "nontraditional" student populations that might have work or family obligations during normal operating hours. With the rise of self-driving car technology, intercampus transportation is one more area where such a move could become a focus.
As the technology improves, there could likely also come a day when self-driving school buses are a realistic proposition in K-12 — though such a move would probably generate a high level of resistance from parents for obvious safety concerns, as AI isn't at a place yet (and it may never be in our lifetimes) where anyone is willing to fully trust it with their children's safety.