ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Driverless shuttle service is set to launch to the University of Michigan, beginning this fall.

Mcity Director Huei Peng says two 15-passenger, all-electric shuttles will give students and professors a ride between the Lurie Engineering Center and the U-M’s North Campus research complex.

The shuttles, manufactured by French firm NAVYA, will run on university roads at first and Mcity will study how passengers react.

That research will be used to gauge broader interest in driverless vehicles.

“This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a critical research project that will help us understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of mobility service and how people interact with it,” said Peng, who is also director of the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at U-M. “The shuttles will augment U-M’s busy campus bus service to provide another mobility option.”

But are the vehicles safe for riders and pedestrians alike?

The short answer, according Mcity Deputy Director Carrie Morton, is yes.

“It’s through our experience working with NAVYA over the last nine months, and M-City, that we’ve gained confidence,” she told WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert, who took a spin on Wednesday.  “And I think you’ll see as we ride along, the shuttle operates in a very conservative fashion.”

Morton says whenever the vehicle detects any kind of obstacle in its way, it stops abruptly.

“We want to make sure that the safety of the occupants and the safety of the pedestrians and the vehicles around us is the utmost priority,” she added.

Mcity was launched public-private partnership to deal with advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.

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