“Assessment of a Week-Long Campus Automated Shuttle Demonstration in Low-Speed Environments”
Pei-Sung Lin, Nikhil Menon, Cong Chen, Achilleas Kourtellis
Most university campuses, theme parks, commercial campuses, airports, and other low-speed environments have courtesy shuttle or bus service as an important mode of transportation around campus and in nearby vicinity. The innovative automated shuttle (AS) systems currently on the market are capable of navigation, path planning and control, obstacle detection, or/and crash avoidance, and have been successfully showcased in multiple scenarios to cover short distances and predefined routes under low-speed environments. For successful deployments on university campuses in the future, it becomes necessary to conduct a demonstration in a mix-traffic environment and assess public opinions on automated shuttles with actual riding experience. This paper comprehensively assessed a week-long AS demonstration in a low-speed environment on the University of South Florida Tampa campus. It analyzed public opinions and comments from potential users and stakeholders for future AS deployment on USF campus and conducted field observations of interactions between the AS and its surrounding road users. Results from the on-board survey of 500+ riders showed an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards their ride experience during the demonstration and indicated their willingness to use automated shuttles as a mode for travel on campus. Results from this study also show the potential for AS to replace some campus trips currently undertaken via other modes. The on-board survey also indicated a growing user trust when exposed to automated vehicles (AVs) and their subsequent ride in the shuttle. The field observation showed the capability of an automated shuttle to gradually adjust its speed and direction when the shuttle faced with the prospect of interacting with road users. The shuttle was able to take passive action and avoid conflicts with other road users. This study demonstrated that the AS will be a very positive alternative for application on university campuses, commercial campuses, hospitals, theme parks, and retirement communities.