We published a news release today over at Parknews.biz from Keolis Canada about their Autonomous on-street shuttle. Seems there are 89 of these critters running in cities around the world. They have carried over 110,000 people safely. If one reads the first few graphs one might believe that AV’s were here. I had visions of buses being replaced with driverless vehicles cruising up Wilshire Boulevard taking passengers swiftly and safely to their destinations. But read the last graph (emphasis mine):
With a capacity of 15 passengers and operating at a speed of approximately 25 km/hr, the autonomous electric shuttle facilitates access and travel, saving time for both public transit users and passengers on private sites. NAVYA counts 25 international projects, with Keolis, the company has tested the vehicle in multiple environments: in France, in Lyon since 2016 and in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle airport where the shuttle crosses a high traffic open road, in Australia in the suburbs of the capital Adelaide, in the United-States in Las Vegas, etc. With the autonomous shuttle, Keolis has already safely transported near 110,000 passengers worldwide. Ideal for urban areas and specific locations, such as airports, industrial facilities, amusement parks, hotel complexes and hospitals, it has been designed and developed to improve and to smooth initial and final stages of a trip.
For you metric challenged, that’s 15 miles per hour. If you speak to those involved in the test, like say in Las Vegas, you find that the shuttles must be ‘trained’ to follow a certain route, have central control modules located on the roofs of high rise structures nearby, and, at least in sin city’s case, have an onboard concierge (not driver) to help passengers.
I guess this is an Autonomous Vehicle, but not as we think of it. This goes to my prediction that the first pass at AVs will be shuttles, vans, delivery, long haul trucks, and the like. They will have carefully prescribed routes, limited range and speed and be overseen by humans back at central.
When we hear of and AV, we think of Tesla taking you to work while you snooze in the back seat. Then halfway there you wake up and decide to stop at Starbucks, not the one on Lincoln, the one on McLaughlin. You mumble the change to the car and off you go. Oh, and its raining like hell outside.
Then you decide to stop off and see a colleague at a nearby university. Once again you make the change, and off you go. You friend is notified, parking is laid on and paid, and the office is appraised of your later arrival.
That’s AV folks.