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Autonomous bus could be transporting Michigan State University students by early next year

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Nov 08, 2021

(WXYZ) — The future of mobility is being developed right here in Southeast Michigan under a partnership with Michigan State University. An Ann Arbor company is teaming up with the Big 10 university on a cutting edge autonomous bus project.

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It’s the newest mode of transportation on campus. A full-sized electric autonomous bus, and after testing is complete, it’s expected to be in use as early as January.

"It’s really a trip to the future for us all,” said Dr. Samuel Stanley, MSU president.

On the campus of MSU, there’s an energy in the air, a sense of excitement fueled by electric power.

"Michigan as a state has this incredible history in mobility and we want to continue that, and I think being involved in EVs and ... autonomous vehicles is the way to do that," said Dr. Stanley.

Dr. Stanley joined leaders in the mobility industry as they debuted the latest technology in transportation.

"The different ways we’ve partnered with private industry to do this makes it another important venture," he said.

With state of the art censors, this electric bus can function without human interaction, although monitoring is currently being done by a trained operator for more than 600 trips.

"The future is here and now. You can be in a classroom and learn about autonomous ... technology, and then actually on the way home, experience that technology. I mean, how cool is that?” said Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer for the State of Michigan.

Ann Arbor company ADASTEC and the State of Michigan worked with MSU to pioneer this bus, and a $100,000 grant from the State of Michigan also assisted with funding.

For students traveling nearly 60 miles of roads on a 5,300 acre campus, developers say this bus represents the merging of efficient transportation with years of research and innovation.

"This is the first transit bus as far as I know in the U.S. which deployed, and I feel like when the book of autonomous driving is written, possibly this will take an important place,” said Dr. Ali Peker, CEO of ADASTEC.

Testing will continue here on campus prior to final approval from the government for use.

Find out more about MSU Mobility by clicking here.