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SwRI deploys autonomous shuttle for campus excursions


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Southwest Analysis Institute’s automated, 14-passenger shuttle is deployed on the firm’s San Antonio campus. | Supply: SwRI

Southwest Analysis Institute (SwRI) has deployed an autonomous shuttle at its 1,500-acre campus in San Antonio. The shuttle can carry as much as 14 passengers for campus excursions, whereas additionally gathering essential info to assist researchers higher perceive autonomous driving. 

SwRI is a developer of software program techniques for autonomous automobiles and robotics. Its Ranger system is at work on the shuttle, serving to it to autonomously drive distinctive routes on the campus. The Ranger system is a localization instrument that makes use of a ground-facing digital camera and automation software program to take care of its place with accuracy as much as 2 cm. 

“It’s rewarding for our engineers to take the perfect know-how that SwRI has developed to serve our purchasers after which embed it right into a showcase car that has a sensible function in our yard,” Ryan Lamm, director of SwRI’s Utilized Sensing Division, mentioned.

SwRI’s shuttle is assessed as a low-speed car, which means it doesn’t go above 50 mph. This makes it good for closed campuses. It makes use of a campus map with options like intersections, lanes, cease indicators and crosswalks highlighted. Routes are chosen alongside the map by an operator. 

Whereas the shuttle drives itself, a human driver sits behind the wheel as an extra security precaution. 

The shuttle’s synthetic intelligence (AI) is ready to classify roadway indicators, pedestrians, automobiles and different objects. The shuttle can deal with a wide range of driving situations, together with sharing the street with different automobiles, detecting dynamic objects like pedestrians and cyclists and figuring out the fitting of manner at an intersection. 

Whereas a lot of the shuttle’s performance could be present in SwRI’s autonomy stack, the shuttle has extra capabilities, like with the ability to share knowledge with clever transportation techniques and different linked and automatic automobiles. 

The shuttle debuted earlier this month to San Antonio-area leaders attending a SwRI occasion. Attendees had the chance to take a 10-minute campus tour on the shuttle. 

“This mid-size passenger car presents future alternatives to enhance mobility and entry to transportation in neighborhoods the place giant buses can’t journey,” Dan Rossiter, a SwRI engineer who helped arrange the occasion, mentioned. “We’re thrilled to have the ability to say San Antonio not solely has this functionality at SwRI, however that we’re serving to to develop and deploy comparable techniques across the globe.”

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