Starting this fall, the University of Michigan will start offering students rides on fully autonomous electric shuttles. The two 15-passenger vehicles will operate on U of M's north campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The project is part of Mcity, the faux town set up in Ann Arbor that was designed as a testbed for autonomous vehicles. Mcity itself is a U of M-led collaboration among several public and private enterprises.

The two shuttles are manufactured by French company Navya. The Arma model looks similar to the Local Motors Olli, no surprise as both vehicles serve essentially the same sort of purpose. Arma shuttles have been operating in Sion, Switzerland, for more than a year now, proving that the technology works well enough in limited applications. We even had a chance to ride along in one at this year's CES.

The Arma uses a 33-kWh LiFePO4 battery and has a run time of about nine hours, good enough for a full day's duty on Michigan's campus. Recharging can be done both with or without wires, through wireless charging does take significantly longer. The run speed is 15 mph, though an Arma can reach a blistering 28 mph with all tethers removed. The shuttles use Lidar, GPS, WiFi, and traditional cameras to navigate around a pre-set route.
In this case, the two shuttles will run on a nonstop loop from the Lurie Engineering Center and the North Campus Research Complex. Both shuttles will cover the route in 10 minutes, and there is no charge for passengers. The project will be used to gauge reactions from both passengers and surrounding pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

Mcity and Navya seem to be making a big leap with their partnership. The French company just announced a new manufacturing facility in Southeast Michigan. The facility will produce more Arma shuttles, presumably for use at locations around the country.

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