NHTSA Forces Florida School To Stop Using Autonomous Electric Bus


An autonomous, electric school bus has been transporting Florida children to school unlawfully.

Interestingly, this fully self-driving bus has been in operation since August 31, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is just now taking notice despite a previous public media launch. The bus — coined the EZ10 Generation II — is manufactured by Transdev North America. It currently only travels at a mere 8 mph and has a safety operator in tow, however, the NHTSA stopped its travels immediately and issued a scathing statement upon being apprised

When the electric, autonomous EZ10 II first went into service, Transdev issued a press release revealing the exciting news. The literature made it clear that the bus was going to be used to take kids to school. There was also a video promotion that was widely distributed. The news was even featured on television and online. However, the NHTSA missed all the publicity.

Of course, the NHTSA is busy and can’t make it a point to follow all local news, but the administration had already been made previously aware of the vehicle’s existence, as well as testing pursuits. In fact, nearly six months earlier, the NHTSA gave Transdev permission to test the bus. Apparently, tests and demos were not to involve actual school transport. The organization points out (via Autoblog):

 … use of the driverless shuttle to transport school children is unlawful and in violation of the company’s temporary importation authorization.

The bus is able to travel at speeds of up to 30 mph and can only fit a total of 12 children. The company also says it can drive itself completely, without the help of a human. In these early testing stages, and without the proper infrastructure, it was only operating at low speeds and with a safety operator on board at all times. NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King shared:

Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety. Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project.

It’s of the utmost importance that new transportation technology be approved and meet NHTSA regulations. What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

Video via Transdev North America on YouTube:

Transdev, Babcock Ranch Pilot Autonomous School Shuttle

Source: Autoblog

Categories: General, Videos

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17 Comments on "NHTSA Forces Florida School To Stop Using Autonomous Electric Bus"

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“Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety. Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project.”

I love how averse the world is to death/risk now. How do you test a safety system in the real world without doing it in the real world. Oh well.

“I love how averse the world is to death/risk now”.

This statement is why the tech industry will never produce true leaders.

What are “true leaders”? Do we have any?

I wonder if the concern isn’t with the full self driving aspect, but crash-worthiness. The software may not be at fault, but if it’s struck, will the kids be safe? And that answer may not be important so much as the fact that an official body hasn’t reviewed it in that regard yet.

(Totally random speculation on my part. I know nothing.)

An 8 mph crash if it hit something else would be pretty low impact. Maybe they are more worried about it hitting/running over children?

If a truck hit it on the road there could be problems.

Up to 12 children potentially injured and/or hurt in an unlikely incident, equates to approximately 24 parents really looking to plant some NHTSA heads on a stick!

Don’t other, everyday vehicles share the same road?

While I understand the sentiment that says real-world testing should involve real-world use of the vehicle, at the same time I agree with the NHTSA in saying that if the vehicle was only given approval for use as a test vehicle, then it shouldn’t be used to transport any person who hasn’t volunteered to be part of the testing program. Especially not minor children who aren’t old enough to sign a form stating they absolve the testing company of liability.

As it is, this vehicle should be carrying crash test dummies, not real school children.

I’d be fine if it was on a private road or trail, but not with other cars. So, outside the juris diction of the NHTSA in other words. This same platform tooted around the superbowl here in Minneapolis this year. It was festooned with a lot of flashing lights and ran up and down an avenue which is buses only. It was great. There may also have been pedal-powered pubs (http://www.pedalpub.com/) and horse-drawn carriages, but really, only buses were motorized.

Yes. The regulations for school buses in the US are far more stringent than for regular buses. The assumption is that kids will not wear their seat belts even if told to. So, your typical school bus is designed inside out to be soft surfaced to minimize injury in case of a crash.

But, placing children (or adults for that matter) in an experimental test vehicle, and certainly on a daily basis, simply defies common sense.

So does allowing anyone to have a firearm so they can shoot up said school children and their teachers. (defies common sense that is, but sense is obviously not common)

School bus is probably the dumbest possible use case for autonomy. You have to have an adult on board anyway, to watch the kids. Might as well let them drive.

Only until autonomous vehicles become safer than human drivers…

Sounds like politics stepped in. This is not what the Koch’s are paying for.

Babcock Ranch is a planned community in the middle of nowhere. Really a great test environment- minimal/no traffic, new roads that are all low speed, low population density, etc. 8mph with an operator on board is less risky than walking to school, IMO.