Not exactly ready for roles in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, but for followers of autonomous technology it was still interesting to see a pair of upended British phone boxes whining around Bishop Ranch virtually unchaperoned Monday.
The driverless gizmos, preternaturally slow by American standards, are the first passenger shuttles of their kind to be deployed anywhere in the nation – and should be an everyday sight at Bishop Ranch by year’s end.
The mint-from-the-box shuttles have no steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedals and feel their way around with the aid of localization lasers, scanning their environment with on-board sensors aboard to detect obstacles and either stop the vehicle or find a way around the obstruction.
The owners of Bishop Ranch bought the two shuttles, designed in France and built by EasyMile, for about $500,000 – a package that includes the services of EasyMile engineers.
While the shuttles are a first for American riders, EasyMile said they are in use in 14 other countries including France, Finland, Dubai and Australia.