We read about the benefits of driverless vehicles all of the time: they’re going to be safer, provide greater mobility options, improve travel reliability, reduce freight costs, etc. What does this mean in practice though? Government agencies around the world are already finding ways to leverage the driverless technology to support these goals (and more!). Here are some exciting examples:
- Shared vehicles (public transit): In Singapore, 24-person driverless pods will shuttle people to their destinations due to a partnership between 2getthere, a Dutch manufacturer of automated vehicle systems, and SMRT Services, Singapore’s second-largest public transportation company (source). CityMobil2 is a pilot platform for automated road transport systems, which are being implemented in several urban environments across Europe.
- First/last mile solution: Transit agencies struggle getting people to and from transit hubs due to the cost of providing transportation to less dense communities. Bishop Ranch, an office park in the Bay Area, will be using Easy Mile’s driverless buses to transport people to a transit hub (source) and Las Vegas will be introducing multiple first/last mile pilots with Local Motor’s Olli (a self-driving shuttle) (source).
- Mobility for the elderly: In Suzu, Japan, a local university is testing a prototype driverless Toyota Prius to address the challenge of providing mobility for aging drivers (source). This is especially important in Japan, which leads the world in aging (with one in four people older than 65).
- Freight testing/piloting – In order to support the local economy and improve safety, Nevada is supporting the testing of driverless trucks (source). Also, European countries are supporting the testing of semi-automted “smart” trucks because they are likely going to be cleaner, more efficient, safer, and reduce congestion due to their consistent driving speed (source).
- Military applications – The United States army will deploy driverless vehicles in extremely controlled areas, at low speeds and for special missions: to transport wounded soldiers to the hospital for rehab treatment. The Army is developing automated vehicles for two main reasons: First, self-driving vehicles can reduce the amount of money the Army spends on its fixed operations. And second, TARDEC engineers believe the technology and lessons from limited on-base driverless vehicles eventually can be used as the building blocks for automated battlefield vehicles (source).
This is just the beginning! What other examples are happening around the world?
Heard good news recently that traditional automobile companies like Volvo and Ford are stepping into the game too. Before it seemed like just the new startups only.