Driverless shuttles introduced at University of Michigan

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jun 04, 2018

There a is new way to get around University of Michigan and you don’t need someone behind the wheel.

Two autonomous shuttles are the newest way students can get around.

Carrie Morton is the Deputy Director of Mcity, a public-private partnership that studies and creates advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.

“There’s no steering wheel, there’s no break pedal, no gas pedal,” Morton said.

After the shuttles were studied at a test facility, both are now ready to pick up passengers on a route near the North Campus Research Complex.

“These robots, if you will, are going to have to be able to think and act like a human driver and interact with the existing manually driven vehicles.”

Even if it’s thinking like a human, researchers say it won’t be distracted like one.

“Never texting and driving,” Morton said,

The two shuttles are set to drive 12 miles per hour and use a GPS to follow the route, driving along an imaginary track.

The shuttles send out lasers to make sure it is safe to move forward.

“If it detects an obstacle, it stops safely, chimes a bell, to let people know that you’re in its way and then moves on,” she said. 

During the pilot program, a safety conductor will on-board.

If anything needs to be done manually, the conductor uses an Xbox controller.

The program is designed to see how passengers, pedestrians and other drivers react to this technology.

Researchers believe these shuttles are on the road to an accident-free future.

“Driverless vehicles have the potential to be far safer than humans,” Morton said.

Depending on reaction, acceptance and demand, they may add more shuttles like these around campus.