An autonomous school shuttle is set to debut this fall at Babcock Ranch in Florida.
Transdev, the mobility partner for Babcock Ranch, announced it is completing more than two months of testing on school shuttle routes that will supplement existing autonomous options within the community. During the pilot-program, Transdev will evaluate rider behavior and demand by offering the service to Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS) students who live within the new town located just northeast of Fort Myers.
"Imagine how excited these students will be the first time that yellow school shuttle pulls up outside their house. What an incredible moment for them," said Dick Alexander, Executive Vice President of Mobility Innovation at Transdev. "Not only are we providing an important mobility option for these children, but what an opportunity for them to see the amazing power of science, technology, engineering, and math that help this shuttle run safely and efficiently. The whole experience is something we hope they will never forget."
BNS students living within the community will be able to catch a ride to school on an autonomous shuttle. Nearly 30 of the 316 students enrolled in grades K-7 at BNS this year will be residing within the town by January.
The 12-person Easy Mile EZ10 Gen II shuttle reaches a standard cruising speed of 12 mph (19 km/h) and brakes automatically and swiftly when obstacles are detected—a new software update will allow the shuttle to maneuver around an obstacle if safe conditions permit. A safety attendant will remain onboard at all times students are riding to ensure their comfort and to answer questions. Transdev will test the autonomous shuttle with students and families before the pilot officially begins.
Babcock Ranch and Transdev have offered autonomous shuttle service since the town opened in January. The school shuttle service is part of an overall strategic plan to deliver autonomous technology designed around the needs of Babcock Ranch residents. Eventually grocery delivery, package delivery, and door-to-door self-storage pickup and drop off will complement a growing suite of choices for families and students.