Transdev launching autonomous school shuttle at Florida's Babcock Ranch
This fall, Transdev will debut the first autonomous school shuttle in the world at Babcock Ranch—the first fully solar-powered community in the country—in Florida.
Transdev, which is the mobility partner for Babcock Ranch, is completing more than two months of testing on school shuttle routes that will augment existing autonomous options within the community.
During the pilot-program, Transdev will offer the service to Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS) students who live within Babcock Ranch. Transdev will use the pilot to evaluate rider behavior and demand.
“Not only are we providing an important mobility option for these children, but what an opportunity for them to see the amazing power of science, technology, engineering and math that help this shuttle run safely and efficiently,” says Dick Alexander, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Innovation at Transdev.
“The whole experience is something we hope they will never forget.”
BNS students living within Babcock Ranch will have the distinction of being the first in the U.S. to catch a ride to school on an autonomous shuttle. By January, nearly 30 of the 316 students enrolled in grades K-7 at BNS this year will be living within the new solar-powered town located just northeast of Fort Myers, Florida.
A 12-person Easy Mile EZ10 Gen II shuttle will be used to transport students during the pilot. Capable of reaching a standard cruising speed of eight miles per hour and braking automatically and swiftly when obstacles are detected, the vehicle will have a safety attendant on board at all times when students are riding to make sure that they are comfortable, and to answer any questions that they might have about the technology.
Before the pilot officially begins, students and families will have the opportunity to ride the shuttle.
“It makes me wish I were a kid again,” says Syd Kitson, CEO of Kitson & Partners, the developers behind Babcock Ranch.
“This is definitely a sign of progress and a sincere testament to a shared commitment to sustainable living. For many of the kids moving in and living here, autonomous school shuttles will be the only school transit they ever know. I’m definitely jealous of them and so proud of this concept.”
During the pilot, the shuttle will remain an option for students who live farther from the school, as well as on days when there is foul weather. Eventually, students and parents will be able to book on-demand, door-to-door school shuttles based on individual needs.