On Monday, April 30, an innovative demonstration of a self-driving EZ10 All Electric Autonomous Bus offered free rides to students, staff, faculty, and the public across the Washington Avenue Bridge.
More than 450 people took a three-minute ride across the bridge during the demo, which was organized by the U of M’s Parking & Transportation Services, CTS, the Humphrey School’s State and Local Policy Program, the University Office of Sustainability, and First Transit, Inc.
The EZ10 Autonomous Shuttle is an all-electric, 12-passenger vehicle that operates along a pre-set route using GPS and other technology to guide its path. Sensing technology installed in the vehicle ensures a smooth and safe ride even in heavy pedestrian/vehicle traffic.
The maximum vehicle speed is 25 miles per hour, but it traveled at about 6 miles per hour during the demo. The bus is also fully accessible for passengers of all abilities.
In addition to showcasing the latest in self-driving technology, the demo also allowed riders to learn more about how autonomous vehicles may be used to deliver future transportation services and provide sustainable linkages to other transportation modes and facilities.
While the University of Minnesota has no specific plans to implement this technology, learning about its possible benefits and showcasing its potential supports research already under way to further develop autonomous vehicle systems at the U of M and around the world.