Melbourne's La Trobe University has detailed findings of what it called successful on-campus trials of Navya's driverless "Autonobus" shuttle, which uses 360-degree cameras and sensor systems to detect objects and runs a set route based on map coordinates. A report on the trial by La Trobe and its project partners includes a number of recommendations, including further trials of the technology; considering autonomous vehicles in future infrastructure planning and investment decisions; and education and engagement of communities on autonomous vehicles. The Autonobus -- which drove students around La Trobe's Bundoora campus as part of a trial until July -- passed every test it went through, including safety, technical, operational, and passenger testing on a pre-programmed route, and interacting with pedestrians, cars, buses, and cyclists, according to Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of project partner HMI Technologies. "No other trial in Australia has tested an autonomous vehicle of this type in such a dense urban location," Zabrieszach said. "We have demonstrated that it can be done safely, without incident, and in compliance with road safety laws."
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.
University of Cincinnati students and visitors would be among the first to experience the driverless shuttle program, but officials say it is still too early to provide details. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the effort is the brainchild of Smart Cincy, a public-private partnership pushing for a "connected vehicle infrastructure."
Walt Disney World in Florida appears poised to launch the highest-profile commercial deployment of driverless passenger vehicles to date, testing a fleet of driverless shuttles that could cart passengers through car parks and around its theme parks. According to sources with direct knowledge of Disney's plans, Walt Disney is in late-stage negotiations with at least two manufacturers of autonomous shuttles. The sources, who asked not be identified to avoid offending Disney, said the company plans a pilot program this year to transport employees in the electric-drive robot vehicles. If that goes well, they said, the shuttles would begin transporting park visitors sometime next year. There are no plans for driverless shuttles at Disneyland in Anaheim, according to the sources.