FutureStructure

Mcity Launches Driverless Shuttle Pilot at University of Michigan

The service will be at no cost to students, faculty and staff who ride the shuttles.

by Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press / June 22, 2017

(TNS) -- Mcity will launch a driverless shuttle service on the University of Michigan’s North Campus beginning this fall, putting the university at the forefront of autonomous vehicle research.

The service will use two fully-automated, 15-passenger, all-electric shuttles manufactured by French firm Navya to transport students, faculty, and staff between U-M’s Engineering campus, and the university’s North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road.

Mcity, U-M’s public-private partnership for mobility research, has been testing the shuttle since December.

“This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a critical research project that will help us understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of mobility service and how people interact with it,” Huei Peng, director of Mcity and a professor of mechanical engineering at U-M said in a statement. “The shuttles will augment U-M’s busy campus bus service to provide another mobility option.”

Navya Technologies is a 2-year-old company based in Lyon, France.

“After six successful months of working in partnership with Mcity, Navya is pleased to join in announcing a new campus mobility service that will use the Navya Arma to transport students, faculty, and staff,” Navya President and CEO Christophe Sapet said in a statement.

Slightly smaller than a typical airport shuttle van, the Arma is powered by a 33 kilowatt-hour battery pack that can be charged in five to eight hours. Its maximum speed is about 25 m.p.h. There is no steering wheel, which maximizes the space for passengers.

Arma shuttles are on the road in countries all over the world. They’re designed for use at a broad range of sites that need efficient, convenient, and safe first and last mile transportation—places such as theme parks and large campus-like environments.

Mcity will study how passengers react to the vehicle as a way to gauge consumer acceptance of the technology. Exterior cameras will capture the reaction and behavior of other road users, especially bicyclists and pedestrians.

The shuttle service will run on U-M roads during business hours to start. There will be no cost to riders.

©2017 the Detroit Free Press Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.