ARMA shuttles are in the news again! We recently reported their first use in the United States in a simulated city environment at a University of Michigan research center.
Now, ARMA shuttles have achieved another milestone. Las Vegas is the first American city to expand the use of driverless shuttles to public streets. Together, the city, its transit operator and NAVYA (the French firm that developed the ARMA shuttles) launched a ten-day pilot program last month.
The oval-shaped ARMA has a human attendant and computer monitor, but no steering wheel and no brake pedals. Passengers push a button at a marked stop to board for free rides during the pilot program. The shuttle uses radar to detect and avoid obstacles, as well as GPS navigation.,
“We’re about ingenuity, new ideas, creative ways,” said Carolyn Goodman, mayor, who sees the project as further positioning Las Vegas as a high-tech hub. So far, city officials have established a downtown Innovation District to test new mobility technology and invested in connected infrastructure in the downtown area.
“We have 40 million visitors a year here and traffic on the Strip and downtown gets very congested,” added Jorge Cervantes, Las Vegas executive director of community development. Driverless shuttles could be in full effect by late summer to early fall.
(techcrunch.com, kvoa.com, businesswire.com, theverge.com, lasvegassun.com, photo from news3lv.com)
Autonomous Leads The News
“Autonomous” used to seem more like science fiction than reality. Now, city planners all over the world are designing for a self-driven future. A growing number of updates about driverless technology flood today’s news sources in a trend that will continue to influence Blue Water Wave. It is no surprise that all of today’s posts report on developments in autonomous mobility.
Michigan Legislates Autonomous Vehicles
Michigan has adopted the nation’s most liberal regulations for the testing, use and eventual sale of autonomous vehicles. Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation in December at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn.
The new laws will continue Michigan’s legacy of being the world leader in automotive design, technology and production. “Michigan put the world on wheels and now we are leading the way in transforming the auto industry,” Snyder said.
For example, Michigan’s new laws allow developers to test vehicles without steering wheels, pedals or human control. This gives Michigan a competitive edge compared with states that require these components. Many leading prototypes are foregoing these items.
Michigan currently leads the way with autonomous vehicle technology. “The fact of the matter is 75 percent of all the companies that are doing research and development in this space are in southeast Michigan,” said Kirk Steudle, director, Michigan Department of Transportation.
The legislation establishes the Michigan Council on Future Mobility as an arm of MDOT that will recommend statewide policies to set industry standards. The council will regulate connected vehicle networks and govern how traffic data will be collected and shared.
Officials from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Google, Uber, and Lyft reportedly helped state officials craft the legislation.
In a related development, Ford has decided to scrap plans for a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico. Instead, it will invest $700 million in a Michigan assembly plant to build autonomous and electric vehicles.
(detroitnews.com, xconomy.com, wired.com, fortune.com, photo from michigan.gov)
Hong Kong Opens Autonomous Train
Hong Kong opened the new year with a splashy debut of its South Island Line. It is one of the newest routes in the world to feature a fully autonomous train.
The $2.18 billion new line is in Hong Kong’s Southern District. It will have 170,000 passengers per day traveling the 4.3-mile, four-station route. The ten three-car trains were designed using Chinese-developed autonomous technology. CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles manufactured the trains in Hong Kong.
The 11-minute trip replaces a 45-minute bus ride, with trains arriving every 3.5 minutes at peak times.
Hong Kong now has rail service in all 18 districts.
(curbed.com, photo by Wpcpey)
Jim Wilson, General Manager