SHUT DOWN! Self-Driving Bus Trial With Kids Onboard
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stopped a pilot study for ferrying school kids in a self-driving vehicle. Transdev, a French transportation company, had been running the trial on a route in Babcock, Florida.
It would seem that Transdev took a mile when it was given an inch. NHTSA allowed Transdev to import the vehicle to test and demonstrate the vehicle on American roads. But the company started using the 12-person shuttle to send kids to the Babcock Neighbourhood School.
At all times, the bus had a safety driver on board. It never exceeded 8 miles an hour to cover the less than 15-minute journey. But even this did not satisfy the NHTSA. Of course, innovation must never come at the cost of public safety: using a vehicle that has not been certified by the proper authorities is irresponsible.
Public transportation, including school buses, is an area where autonomous vehicles may become common. There will be a requirement to rigorously test them in real-world scenarios. But testing them with kids on board has given Transdev a big red ‘F’ by the NHTSA.