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Testing Of Self-Driving School Bus Halted In Florida, USA

French utility Veolia agreed to sell its 30 percent stake in Transdev to Germany's Rethmann Group.

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FILE - The headquarters of French international public transport company Transdev is seen in Issy-les-Moulineaux. VOA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday said it had ordered Transdev North America to immediately stop transporting schoolchildren in Florida in a driverless shuttle as the testing could be putting them at “inappropriate” risk.

The auto safety agency known as NHTSA said in an order issued late Friday that Transdev’s use of its EZ10 Generation II driverless shuttle in the Babcock Ranch community in southwest Florida was “unlawful and in violation of the company’s temporary importation authorization.”

“Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety,” said Deputy NHTSA Administrator Heidi King in a statement.

Transdev
Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and is now rolling out the service in San Francisco. (Uber), VOA

“Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project.”

In March, NHTSA granted Transdev permission to temporarily import the driverless shuttle for testing and demonstration purposes, but not as a school bus.

The agency said the company had agreed to halt the tests. A spokeswoman for Transdev did not respond to several requests for comment Monday.

Transdev North America is a unit of Transdev, which is controlled by France state-owned investment fund Caisse des Depots et Consignations.

The company in August issued a news release saying it would “operate school shuttle service starting this fall with an autonomous vehicle, the first in the world.”

Transdev
Self Driving Car, Google

Transdev said the 12-person shuttle bus would operate from a designated pickup area with a safety attendant on board, would travel at a top speed of 8 miles per hour (13 kph), with the potential to reach speeds of 30 mph (48 kph) once additional infrastructure was completed.

There are numerous low-speed self-driving shuttles being tested in cities around the United States with many others planned.

NHTSA previously said it was moving ahead with plans to revise safety rules that bar fully self-driving cars from the roads without equipment such as steering wheels, pedals and mirrors as the agency works to advance driverless vehicles. The agency has said it opposes proposals to require ‘pre-approving’ self-driving technologies before they are tested.

Also Read: LG Signs Deal For Developing Self-Driving Modules For Mobile Robots

NHTSA told Transdev that failure to take appropriate action could result in fines, the voiding of the temporary importation authorization or the exportation of the vehicle.

Earlier this month, French utility Veolia agreed to sell its 30 percent stake in Transdev to Germany’s Rethmann Group. (VOA)

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Americans Prefer Driving By Themselves Than An Autonomous Vehicle Drive Them

Researchers, from Washington University have revealed that people in the US would rather drive themselves than have an autonomous vehicle

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Self driving, Driving, Americans, Vehicle, Transport
Through a survey, the team found that people considered a ride-hailing service at least 13 per cent "less expensive," in terms of time, compared to driving themselves. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, from Washington University have revealed that people in the US would rather drive themselves than have an autonomous vehicle drive them.

Many Americans use a ride-hailing service — like Uber or Lyft — to get to and from work. It provides the privacy of riding in a personal car and the convenience of catching up on emails or social media during traffic jams.

In the future, self-driving vehicles could provide the same service, except without a human driver.

“The average person in our sample would find riding in a driverless car to be more burdensome than driving themselves. This highlights the risks of making forecasts based on how people say they would respond to driverless cars today,” said study senior author Don MacKenzie.

For the findings published in the journal Transportation, the research team studied how Americans’ perceived cost of commute time changes depending on who’s driving.

Self driving, Driving, Americans, Vehicle, Transport
Many Americans use a ride-hailing service — like Uber or Lyft — to get to and from work or. Pixabay

Through a survey, the team found that people considered a ride-hailing service at least 13 per cent “less expensive,” in terms of time, compared to driving themselves.

If the researchers told people the ride-hailing service was driverless, however, then the cost of travel time increased to 15 per cent more than driving a personal car, suggesting that at least for now, people would rather drive themselves than have an autonomous vehicle drive them.

During the survey, the research team asked people across the continental US to select between a personal car or a ride-hailing service for a 15-mile commute trip.

Half the 502 respondents were told that the ride-hailing service was driverless.

ALSO READ: Himachal Pradesh Aiming to Achieve 100% Transition to Electric Vehicles by 2030

The researchers converted the responses to a score of how much respondents deemed that trip would cost per hour.

“If someone values their trip time at $15 per hour, that means they dislike an hour spent travelling as much as they dislike giving up $15, so a lower number means that the time spent travelling for that trip is less burdensome,” said study co-author and Indian-origin researcher Andisheh Ranjbari.

According to the researchers, driverless cars aren’t commercially available yet, so people are not familiar with them or may be leery of the technology. (IANS)