The University of Michigan is a hotbed for self-driving car research, so it stands to reason that students and faculty should use self-driving vehicles to get around, right? The university clearly thinks so. Mcity (the university's public-private partnership) is launching a free driverless shuttle service that will see two 15-passenger Navya Arma vehicles transport people between the university's North Campus Research Complex and the Lurie Engineering Center. This will make the 2-mile trip easier for travelers tired of taking campus buses, as you might guess, but it'll also serve as an experiment in its own right.
The Mcity team will closely watch how people react to the shuttles -- whether or not they're aboard. Outside cameras will monitor how people behave around the vehicles, while researchers will also measure ridership numbers and patterns. This should influence when and where the shuttles drive (they're currently limited to that one route and regular business hours), and promises safer, more efficient self-driving vehicles in the future. All told, the university could learn a lot about autonomy just by fulfilling some of its own needs.