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Autonomous Shuttles in Northern Virginia Suburb Show Why Future of Robot Cars Might Be Slow

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Optimus Rides automated shuttles transport office workers in Reston, VA.

Boston-based start-up Optimus Ride and real estate developer Brookfield Properties are partnering on an autonomous shuttle service in Reston, VA.

Credit: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post

Boston-based Optimus Ride and real estate developer Brookfield Properties have partnered on an autonomous shuttle service to transport commuters between a Metro station and locations in Reston, VA.

The low-speed, short-distance shuttles are envisioned as an alternative to traditional vehicles.

Navigant Research's Sam Abuelsamid said vehicles traveling at less than 25 miles per hour reduce the risk of pedestrian fatalities, and shorter stopping distances make fewer sophisticated sensors necessary.

Optimus' shuttles feature a safety driver and engineer in case of malfunction, but CEO Ryan Chin said the plan is to transition from an onboard crew to a remote operator managing a fleet of shuttles by next year.

Chin, who sees such projects as a gradual move toward driverless cars, said, "Let's start with places we can get autonomous vehicles to work reasonably in the near term."

From The Washington Post
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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