ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan has rolled out two driverless buses to run a one-mile route on the Ann Arbor campus and collect user data and feedback regarding autonomous safety and design. The buses, introduced on June 4, are supported by research and development efforts of the university's autonomous vehicle testing center, Mcity.
Mcity launched the buses for a one-year period, during which it will monitor user behavior and collect data via onboard cameras, Wi-Fi and lidar detection systems, according to a news release.
Organizers are calling it the first driverless shuttle project focused on user analysis. Data will be used to gauge user trust over time and to inform the design of safer vehicles.
Two shuttles—fully automated electric 11-passenger units built by French manufacturer Navya Technologies—will cover a one-mile round-trip route at the university's North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor. The shuttle, free for riders, will make the route every 10 minutes between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
A conductor will be on board shuttles at all times with the ability to stop the bus immediately for safety reasons.
Construction along the shuttle's route delayed roll-out, which was expected last fall, UM spokeswoman Susan Carney said via email. The road around the research complex was ripped up, preventing vehicle testing.
About 1,000 test runs and 500 hours of testing and training were completed prior to Monday's launch.
After 12 months, the shuttle will be assessed and the program possibly expanded depending on demand, Carney said.
Since Mcity's launch, the program has brought together nearly 60 companies that represent a scope of autonomous and connected vehicle technology. Among them is Goodyear, which recently became the first tire maker to sign on as a research and development partner.