Nebraska’s first Autonomous Shuttle Housed at UNL’s Innovation Campus

June 27, 2018 - 9:51am

Nebraska’s first self-driving shuttle is parked in Lincoln at UNL’s Innovation Campus. A $100,000 grant to the city of Lincoln brought the autonomous shuttle to UNL, making it one of just a handful of universities nationally to feature an autonomous shuttle system.

The shuttle, developed by the French company Navya, has GPS, laser sensors and multiple cameras to help guide the vehicle safely through its environment. By using radio signals connected to a tower on top of Abel Hall, the shuttle is able to triangulate its location with the help of GPS satellites. It can even detect pedestrians standing in the way and will honk at them if they do not move.

Director of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus, Daniel Duncan, said he’s excited about the opportunities to come with a project like this.

“The biggest advantage I see to this is that it’s on demand. You’d have an app on your phone, and if no one is using the shuttle, it just sits. You would use the app to call the shuttle at a specific location and time, so it would come and pick you up. So you can imagine a lot less energy consumption for that type of service,” Duncan said.

The city of Lincoln is encouraging the public to take part in the project by participating in rides and surveys for the shuttle. Since Lincoln was one of 35 cities to receive the initial $100,000 grant, they have applied to win one of four larger grants. The public’s participation in surveys along with information from the city will help Lincoln’s application for one of the three grants worth $1 million or the grand prize of $5 million.

The larger grants are to help the production of up to six autonomous shuttles that would navigate fixed routes through downtown Lincoln as early as next year.

“If they get the grant, we could see several shuttles deployed starting in the spring of 2019,” Duncan said.

This project aligns perfectly with the new Autonomous Vehicle Bill that was signed into law Monday by Governor Pete Ricketts. The bill allows autonomous vehicles to operate in Nebraska.

The shuttle will be giving rides to the public from Thursday, June 28 through Friday, July 13. To sign up for a ride, visit http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/shuttle/event.htm.

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