MSU is planning an autonomous 22-seater electric bus for travel on campus

One of the nation’s largest self-driving electric buses will buzz around the Michigan State University campus next year, symbolizing the university’s drive to build a reputation for itself in modern transportation research.

The 22-seat bus will travel 2.5 miles from the MSU Auditorium to the MSU Suburban Lot at the intersection of Farm Lane and Mount Hope. The bus will complement ongoing research at MSU Mobility, the university’s autonomous infrastructure research and development arm.

“This will give our students a glimpse into the future of mobility and give us the tremendous opportunity to analyze real-world autonomous driving data, supporting a multitude of [research and development] initiatives on campus, ”said Satish Udpa, professor of engineering and acting director of MSU Mobility.

The bus will communicate with traffic lights along its route. Although it can operate without any human interaction, a driver “will be present and on board at all times, ready to take control if necessary”, according to a university press release. MSU will deploy the bus after being tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Students, faculty and staff will be able to take the bus when it begins its journey early next year.

The bus gave an imperfect test in early November when another bus pulled too close and applied its emergency brakes. The brutal shutdown sent some members of the media “tumbling down the aisle,” the Lansing State Journal reported.

MSU is partnering with bus maker Karsan, transportation company ADASTEC, and the State of Michigan on the autonomous bus project.

“Having an autonomous electric bus of this size in our backyard is amazing. This gives us a practical tool that can help educate MSU students and staff as well as surrounding communities on the importance and applicability of such vehicles in our society, ”said Trevor Pawl, Director Michigan Mobility. “MSU’s connected campus is an asset to prove autonomous technology and help us realize the full potential of this type of public transport. “

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