Babcock Ranch, Florida made history when it became America’s first self-sustainable, solar-powered city. Now they are making history again, becoming the first to test an autonomous school shuttle on its roads.
This city of firsts, located just northeast of Ft Myers, will team up with global mobility operator Transdev to offer shuttle services to the 300 plus students in the area. The program will debut this fall using a 12 person Easy Mile EZ10 shuttle. The EZ10 shuttle is electrically powered and is able to react 30 times faster than a human driver.
With safety being a major concern, the vehicle will only travel at a top speed of 8 MPH until the necessary infrastructure is in place. Once complete, the shuttle will be capable of reaching speeds up to 30MPH. Safety attendants will also remain on board at all times to answer any questions riders may have. However, the route and operation will be fully autonomous.
“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.”
At first, the school bus will follow a predetermined path with designated pick up and drop off locations. But eventually, students and parents will be able to schedule on-demand door to door shuttles through an integrated phone app. The on-demand service will allow each family to schedule pickups that fit their individual needs. That means no more standing outside in the rain or chasing the bus down just because you woke up late.
The program is all part of the communities long-term plan to reduce dependency on personal vehicles. Similar shuttle services will also be available for regular public transportation, as the town strives to become as environmentally sustainable as possible.