Self-Driving Buses Coming To Gainesville

Published: May. 18, 2018 at 6:14 PM EDT
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It's like a science fiction movie coming to life in Gainesville, Self- driving busses.

We'll show you how soon you'll be sharing the road with more autonomous vehicles, As project leaders say they save safety measures to minimize the chance of a crash.

This autonomous bus is one of three which will begin operating on RTS bus routes in downtown Gainesville starting in late August.

Gainesville's Assistant City manager Dan Hoffman said "It is free during the pilot phase, during the three years we are testing it, its free. It will stop at RTS bus stops just like any other bus."

Although the buses are fully operational on their own, at first they will have operators present.

Hoffman explained why. "For the first phase, there will be a safety operator on board just making sure it runs properly, doing testing, answering questions for people who ride it. But it is a fully autonomous shuttle which will operate in mixed traffic in downtown Gainesville between the downtown and the University of Florida."

Its part of Gainesville and the University of Florida's 3 year, 2.6 million dollar project, all funded by a grant from the state.

The Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration Manager Yigit Topcu told us some details about how fast you can expect these buses to be moving. "The vehicle is capable of doing 25 miles an hour in this current generation, with that said though because its still kind of in its early stages we'd like to keep it around 10 to 15 miles an hour for now."

Hoffman says to start the routes will focus on downtown Gainesville. "It will go to Depot Park and onto campus at the University of Florida. In the initial early phases, it will just run between downtown Gainesville, the downtown corridor by our Southwest garage over to Innovation Square."

Each bus has multiple sensors attached to it so it knows what's around and has a built-in emergency braking mechanism.

Topcu explained the safety measure as: "The vehicle is essentially programmed to always want to stop, it's constantly looking for reasons to stop. So if someone was just for whatever reason standing in our way it would come to a nice gradual stop. It would pick them up from a distance and as it gets closer and closer it will make the decision okay I'll start slowing down, as it gets closer it will say okay I'm going to stop now."

Tv20's Landon Harrar demonstrated the Stopping mechanism saying "and it doesn't just stop for people standing in the road. If you're going to run out in front of it like this, see, stops right on a dime."

Each bus can hold up to 12 passengers at a time.