Take Me to the Ballgame — in a Driverless Shuttle
Driverless transportation is definitely coming closer to the mainstream, but most companies developing the technology have said it will be another couple of years before we see autonomous vehicles being used as an alternative for typical transportation.
According to Global Life Park, it's actually going to be within the next 30 days.
On Wednesday a meeting was held in Arlington to discuss the billion dollar new ballpark that is being built for the Texas Rangers. However, a new feature for the old ballpark was brought up as well: driverless shuttles.
According to Mayor Jeff Williams:
In the next 30 days, autonomous people movers are going to be in use at Global Life Park.
This is huge for autonomous development, as most of the technology hasn't seen the light in the way that these shuttles will. Still, if it's going to happen, it's no surprise that it's happening in Texas. Arlington, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas are places that were picked specifically for autonomous tests. In addition to that, recently Texas passed a bill into law that said autonomous vehicles are definitely allowed on Texas roads, with or without a human driver.
According to Williams, pre-programmed routes for driverless vehicles are still being made. It likely will include off-street trails in the entertainment district and routes from parking lots to games and events. When the service is available, users will be able to call the 24/7 service through an app.
The buses were created by Alliance for Transportation Innovation, they're called EZ-10's and have six seats and room for six people to stand. They also have a button on them that you can press to access ramps for those with disabilities and strollers.
For assured safety, the EZ-10 shuttles have obstacle protection. Additionally, even though Texas does allow driverless tests without a human operator, there will be an operator in these shuttles in case things go wrong, at least for the first months.
Mayor Williams is sure that this is a major step towards getting autonomous vehicles into the mainstream and getting people comfortable with them. He says:
One day our kids and grandkids are going to be saying, 'Did you really drive? Wasn't that dangerous?'
The first shuttles will begin accepting passengers by next month, and so the autonomous future we've all been waiting for will begin to make its way to us.