No steering wheel, no problems? Researchers testing autonomous shuttle service in Blacksburg
An autonomous shuttle service is rolling for the first time in the region, at least for those who aren’t in too much of a rush.
The vehicle, which is part of a Virginia Tech research project, only travels 12 mph. But it does so without a driver or steering wheel.
There’s no hood or even a front or back. Instead, the shuttle has headlights on both ends and travels in either direction. It has seats for six passengers, but can carry 15 – depending on how much everyone weighs.
For now, the autonomous vehicle is limited to a half-mile test stretch between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s office and the nearest bus stop on Industrial Park Boulevard.
VTTI did not invent the shuttle, but rather purchased it from France-based EasyMile. The EZ10 model usually sells or leases for about $250,000. Virginia Tech is working with the manufacturer as it develops research projects.
The shuttle has already been wrapped in a Hokie-themed paint scheme, with bird footprints and “Advancing Transportation Through Innovation” across the side.
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