Ann Arbor’s U-M Launches Driverless Shuttle on North Campus

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The Mcity Driverless Shuttle, a research project at Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan, launched today on the north campus. Mcity, which operates a 32-acre connected and automated vehicle test facility nearby, is studying how passengers react to the driverless shuttles to gauge consumer acceptance of the technology. The shuttles are equipped with onboard cameras and Wi-Fi communications to capture data generated during operation.

The Mcity Driverless Shuttle is the first driverless shuttle project in the United States focusing on user behavior research and data collection, and we’re excited to begin this important work,” says Huei Peng, director of Mcity, the Roger L. McCarthy professor of mechanical engineering, and the faculty lead on the shuttle research project. “The data we collect will help researchers understand user trust over time, as well as how to design safer vehicles and how to operate them more efficiently.”

The Mcity Driverless Shuttle uses two fully automated, 11-passenger, all-electric AUTONOM Shuttles made by the French firm NAVYA to cover a roughly one-mile round-trip route contained to the North Campus Research Complex. The shuttle will carry students, faculty, and staff to the complex from more distant parking areas, and provides easy access to a U-M/Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority bus stop. Future plans include route expansion and accessibility research.

The shuttles are equipped with LIDAR, which uses invisible laser beams to build a view of the surrounding environment as we all as GPS for localization. A human conductor will be on board at all times to immediately stop the shuttle if needed. Mcity’s conductors completed training on the shuttle inside the Mcity Test Facility and on the route. About 500 hours of testing and training were completed, including 200 hours of training by the conductors.

Interior cameras will record video, audio, and photographs of riders. Exterior cameras will capture the reaction and behavior of other road users. Mcity will use Wi-Fi data that the university already gathered to learn about ridership and usage patterns and is working with J.D. Power to survey users about their experiences. Riders’ privacy will be safeguarded.

“The research obtained from our surveys will help the industry understand the rider’s experience on the driverless shuttle, as well as non-riders who interact with the shuttle as it operates on U-M’s campus,” says Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface at J.D. Power. “Examining the experience from both perspectives will help industry stakeholders better understand consumer acceptance of driverless technology over time.”

The shuttle will run 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, weather permitting. There will be no cost to riders, and the two shuttles will cover the route about every 10 minutes. For more information or to check the location of the shuttles, visit micty.doublemap.com. Shuttle stops are outside the Building 10 entrance on the north side of the research complex, which is off Plymouth Road and Huron Parkway, and on the south side of the complex, in the NC91 parking lot, just off Baxter Road.

Mcity is a U-M-led public-private partnership to accelerate advanced mobility vehicles and technologies. NAVYA is an affiliate member of Mcity. The first of NAVY’s shuttle vehicles to operate in North America is based at Mcity.

“After over a year working in partnership with Mcity, NAVYA is pleased to join in announcing a new campus mobility research project that will deploy two new NAVYA AUTONOM Shuttles to transport students, faculty, and staff,” says Christophe Sapet, CEO of NAVYA.

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