Shared autonomous vehicles, self-driving buses, driverless shuttles -- whatever you call them, these vehicles are beating autonomous cars to the road. While companies like Waymo, GM's Cruise, Lyft, Uber, Baidu, Tesla, and others continue testing personal vehicles that can drive themselves, others are focusing efforts away from personal transit options and seeing how autonomous tech can move crowds at school campuses, residential communities, office parks, business districts, and event spaces. Just this week the New York Times uncovered that Apple's self-driving car program is refocusing on an employee shuttle with Volkswagen vans. That's why these shared vehicles are more appealing within the industry -- in more controlled, predictable, contained environments computer-controlled vehicles have more of a chance of staying on course and getting to the destination without any issues. That college campus in Florida only has so many busy intersections and complicated turns for a vehicle to track and navigate.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard is getting an autonomous boost. On private roads, a loop shuttle service for ferry passengers will bring riders to the industrial center where 400 businesses operate. Workers can ride in MIT-based company Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttle cars starting later this year. The driverless trips will be part of the first commercial self-driving program in the state. New York and New York City in particular have been hesitant in embracing autonomous technology.
Self-driving vehicle company, Optimus Ride, has launched a fleet of autonomous shuttles in New York City's Brooklyn Navy Yard for what will be the city's biggest test of self-driving tech to date. According to the company, the six self-driving cars will serve passengers only on the Navy Yards' private roads as well through a loop shuttle service connecting NYC Ferry passengers from dock 72 to a gate next to Flushing Avenue. Vehicles will operated from 7 pm until 10 pm and be chaperoned by two safety attendants -- one in the drivers seat to intervene if necessary and another in the passenger seat logging the vehicles' performance. For now, the rides will be free according to The Verge, as Optimus has received $18 million in its first round of funding and is in contract with the Navy Yard for an undisclosed sum. Optimus says its expecting to service 500 passengers per day and cater to the roughly 10,000 workers that are based there.
In 2018, sharp observers of self-driving vehicles may have noticed that a few of the things have arrived. While most are still testing, only allowing employees inside--including Uber, Ford, Argo, Aurora, and Cruise--this year also saw the 25,000th passenger trip provided by a collaboration between Aptiv and Lyft, which uses a handful of autonomous vehicles to ferry riders around Las Vegas. Just this month, Waymo launched a driverless service in the Phoenix area, if a limited one. This body of evidence should help you understand the nuanced answer to an increasingly common question. "We get asked, 'When are we going to see these cars?' My answer is, essentially, 'It depends where you live,'" says Karl Iagnemma, Aptiv's president of automotive mobility.
Select commuters in New York City and Fairfield, California will have a chance to pioneer a fleet of autonomous vehicles slated to begin serving the cities later this year. Boston-based, Optimus Ride, announced that in the second quarter of 2019 it will deploy a fleet of autonomous cars at New York City's Brooklyn Navy Yard, an up-and-coming modern industrial and business park, as well as Paradise Valley Estates, a senior community in Fairfield, California. For New York, the introduction of Optimus' fully autonomous vehicles will mark the first-ever commercial self-driving car to tread in New York State where it will have a chance to offer rides to thousands of commuters. According to the company, the New York self-driving cars will help serve passengers on the Navy Yards private roads as well as'providing a loop shuttle service to connect NYC Ferry passengers to Flushing Avenue outside the Yard's perimeter.' In Paradise Valley, the cars will serve to provide potential residents of the community their own tours of the neighborhood and in the later phases of its deployment, be able to serve current residents looking to travel to destinations within the gated community.