After a January trial ended in Las Vegas following two weeks of ferries, another one kicks off in Paris – with more autonomous shuttle trials to take place in Australia, Switzerland or Singapore.
Passengers that need to connect their journeys between two of the main train stations in Paris could be surprised to find out they can board a new autonomous shuttle service for the 400-foot route. With nobody sitting behind the wheel, the two electric minibuses connecting the Gare de Lyon and Austerlitz stations are certainly a sight to behold. And this is not something unique – Las Vegas also had its own trials along Fremont Street. “Las Vegas has always been on the cutting edge of technology,” comments Jorge Cervantes, executive director of community development. “We have 40 million visitors a year here and traffic on the Strip and downtown gets very congested. The ability to move people more efficiently is something we’ve been looking at for a while.”
Other locations around the world are testing similar shuttle services – in Australia or Singapore, the small and densely populated Asian city-state having a pilot program with driverless mini-buses that connect various locations in one of its main high-tech development centers. This was actually the first ever such program, operating since last August. “This is really a moment in history that’s going to change how cities are built, how we really look at our surroundings,” said Doug Parker, an executive with nuTonomy, a tech spin-off of MIT. The company will put out next year in Singapore 100 or more of their robo-taxi shuttles.