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Low-Speed Autonomous Shuttles - Lessons Learned from Real-World Implementation
ISSN: 0148-7191, e-ISSN: 2688-3627
Published April 15, 2021 by SAE International in United States
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Low-speed automated vehicles (LSAVs) are being deployed in various scenarios to enhance mobility for a wide variety of transportation users. LSAVs are typically highly automated battery-electric vehicles that transport up to eight passengers at speeds below 15 mph on predefined and previously mapped routes. Current applications include providing last-mile connectivity and serving as circulating shuttles in areas such as business districts, military bases, parking lots, and theme parks. An EasyMile EZ10 LSAV was deployed on a route between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) campus and a nearby bus transit stop as part of a study focusing on prospective user attitudes and acceptance with regard to trust in technology, system safety, and personal security. The LSAV operated on this route within normal travel lanes and interacted with mixed public traffic that included the full range of transportation users from pedestrians to heavy vehicles. This paper offers a series of lessons learned and potential best practices that researchers at VTTI derived from deploying, operating, and evaluating this LSAV in real-world conditions. The researchers hope that this information will inform municipalities, transit providers, universities, and others that are considering LSAV deployments. The range of aspects covered includes vehicle/system acquisition and maintenance, vehicle functionality, route and traffic considerations, personnel training, user interaction, and more.