Science

Self-driving shuttles take over Brooklyn Navy Yard

A few years ago self-driving vehicles seemed to be impossible to achieve. Now, they are a reality, even more, they aren’t only available in the form of personal cars, the first self-driving shuttles already turned up in Brooklyn. The smart vehicles don’t run around New York City freely just yet, but those who want to try out the experience of traveling in a vehicle that doesn’t have a driver can do that at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. At this time, the driverless buses only transport passengers in a 300-acre shipyard but it’s safe to assume that they will soon take over other territories too.

The self-driving shuttles that take passengers and workers all across the 300-acre shipyard of the Brooklyn Navy Yard belong to Optimus Ride, a Boston-based company. At this point, the MIT spinoff released only a half-dozen of its electric minibuses on the streets of the navy yard, each of which can transport six passengers at a time. While this is far from being enough for taking over all the passenger traffic in the area, given the clean vehicles’ positive impact on the environment, it is a great first step toward a healthier way of commuting.

At this point, for safety reasons, there are actually two qualified drivers in the self-driving shuttles at all times, one of whom sits behind the wheel and the other one monitors the bus’s functions on a tablet from one of the passengers’ seats. However, after the testing period is concluded, the continuous monitoring will be done by Optimus Ride employees in the Boston Offices. This may take a while but eventually Optimus Ride, and probably other companies too will be able to deliver fully autonomous vehicles that will be able to solve the commute-related problems of all the major cities that constantly fight for a cleaner environment.

We could see self-driving shuttles in a few years all over the United States, in all the capitals and cities of Europe, Australia, and so forth. Basically, they could become a part of our lives in a matter of years. While the self-driving shuttles may solve the problem of air pollution, they could also be safer than man-driven vehicles so passengers could actually be surer of getting to their destination well. Self-driving vehicles are becoming more and more reliable and as they will become more popular traffic could get more fluent and safer. Unfortunately, over the net few years, a lot of drivers could also lose their jobs. However, at this point, we are only looking at a half-dozen self-driving vehicles that carry a handful of commuters daily, so there still is quite a lot of time before this happens.

Optimus Ride has done an impressive job up until now so we are eager to see what else they are preparing for the world. Until then, if you happen to be in Brooklyn, make sure to try out the self-driving shuttles. Starting today, they are available for rides on weekdays, between 7 AM and 10:30 PM.

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