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MSU's new autonomous bus expected to start shuttling students by spring

Posted at 5:34 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 17:34:24-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University unveiled a new autonomous bus on Friday. Though it's still in its testing phase, university officials expect it to be shuttling students across campus by this spring.

The bus "really amplifies what we're trying to do here at MSU," said university President Samuel L Stanley. "Being on the cutting edge of innovation, of research and of course development as well."

The bus is equipped with Level 4 autonomy, which means it can operate without any human interaction. During the testing phase, there's a trained driver behind the wheel and people collecting data.

“I had an opportunity to see the way the bus detects objects on the road, being able to see how the bus visualizes objects gives me so much confidence for the future of autonomous vehicles," said MSU freshman Tabby Basha. "I felt safer knowing that human error was no longer a factor on whether or not I could be seen on the sidewalk.”

At Friday's press event, the bus often drove well below the speed limit and made sudden stops. In fact, one stop sent journalists flying, leaving a Lansing State Journal photographer on the floor. Officials say they'll continue to to work out the kinks.

“Of course we need a lot of time for testing," said Ali Peker, CEO of Adestec, which created the autonomous driving technology. "There are a lot of things that happen on the road, it’s not easy to plan them but this is a good step towards providing a real product with a real return on investment.”

Bus was donated by the manufacturer, Karsan.

Once the bus is ready for riders, it will travel a two-and-a-half-mile loop between the university's commuter lots and the MSU Auditorium.

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