MnDOT tests autonomous, self-driving shuttle bus

- MnDOT is taking the future for a ride as it tests out an autonomous, self-driving shuttle bus at its testing center in Monticello, Minnesota.

It’s called an autonomous shuttle bus, and not only does it look different, it is different.
Inside you’ll find no steering wheel and no pedals. But, it has plenty of sensors.

The electric shuttle was developed by a company called Easy Mile and is now operating in 19 countries. But, none of them ever see snow.

Which is why they’re now testing it in Minnesota.

“We haven’t tested in these kind of conditions, so, that vehicle could stop with a snow flake,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle.  

Moments later on the test track, that’s exactly what happened.

So, engineers need a Minnesota winter to make this work, and when it does, the hope is that autonomous driving will create safer roads.

“Each year over 300 people are killed on our roadways, and we think that this technology – which is already in some of our vehicles right now with adaptive cruise control – is helping out with crashes. And we think this is really going to help us drive to our ultimate goal of zero fatalities in Minnesota,” said Jay Heitpas, MnDOT state traffic engineer.

The autonomous shuttle bus is actually going to be in Minnesota testing out our winter climate for a couple of months, and you, too, will have a chance to ride on it during the Super Bowl when it goes to Nicollet Mall.

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