These shuttles will be available to select students and faculty who can request one using a mobile app. Sound like a familiar system? The LiDAR system and cameras come into play with monitoring pedestrian traffic on campus. The system recognizes people walking around and records the data. Over time, MIT will be able to see where people go and what routes they use, which will help to position the shuttles in optimum locations.
Ford also implemented a very similar system at its Dearborn headquarters for use by its employees. The company also explained that these programs will provide helpful information not only for developing mobility services and applications, but also for their autonomous driving systems. Scanning and imaging systems will be a vital part of any autonomous feature, so it makes sense that the more opportunities to test, the more the company can improve those systems.
Ford's investment in these programs shows that the company wants to be a leader in a future mobility industry. It has effectively created a microcosm of ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft with the added benefit of having a test bed for technology with autonomous vehicle applications. It will be interesting to see the results of all this work.