Michigan State will launch an electric self-driving bus in early 2022


Michigan State University will deploy an electric autonomous bus on its campus in January pending additional testing and NHTSA validation, the school’s mobility research faculty announced in early November.

The bus was produced by Turkish vehicle manufacturer Karsan and equipped with autonomous technology from Adastec Corp., a San Francisco-based company that offers autonomous transportation platforms for vehicles. Adastec received a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Office of Mobility and Electrification to support the project.

The bus had undergone about 270 tests as of Nov. 5. It will complete about 630 total test trips before passengers are allowed on, MSU said.

“Real life is much different from tests and pilots, and we have [tested the area] maybe a million times in simulation,” Adastec CEO Ali Peker said. “But in real worlds, people act differently. Generally, to make this bus safe, you don’t want to make assumptions.”

Once it’s fully operational, the 22-seat bus will run from early morning to evening along a 2.5-mile route stretching from the south edge to the center of campus. It will charge at night. All traffic lights along the route will be controlled through intelligent roadside units and communicate with the bus to improve its safety, MSU said.

An Adastec driver will be on the bus at all times to take control of it if needed, MSU said.

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