Driverless Shuttles Expected To Launch at U-M This Fall

Come Fall 2017, students at the University of Michigan (U-M) will be riding to class via self-driving shuttles! Nicknamed Arma, two fully automated and electric, 15-passenger shuttles will launch on U-M’s North Campus, transporting students, faculty, and staff between the engineering campus and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road. The Detroit Free Press emphasizes that the shuttles will be used to study how passengers react to regular vehicles on the road, as a way of gaining perspective on consumer acceptance of autonomous technology.

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The shuttles can travel up to 35 mph and are powered by a 33 kilowatt per hour battery pack that takes 5-8 hours to charge. They have seating capacity for nine people, but can fit more if passengers hold onto hand rails. The Arma shuttles use an advanced global positioning system to track information from up to 17 satellites and are accurate to the inch on roads, even proven to be reliable in light rain and snow that characterize much of Michigan’s weather. The driver-less vehicles will drive themselves on University of Michigan roadways, alongside regular cars driven by the public, on a 2 mile circular route, every 10 minutes.

The shuttles have been developed by Mcity, the University of Michigan’s public-private partnership for mobility research, and were manufactured by French firm Navya. Mcity is funded by the university, federal grants, and about 65 automakers and other companies. 

Huei Peng, the director of Mcity and a professor of mechanical engineering at U-M, said to the Detroit Free Press, “This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a critical research project that will help us understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of mobility service and how people interact with it.” 

Peng commented that the shuttles are just the latest innovation from Mcity. “The university has a record of innovation in virtually every aspect of mobility...That breadth and depth are some of the reasons why we were so well-positioned to create Mcity and provide a safe, controlled environment for vehicle testing.” Mcity's website also explains to the public how autonomous vehicles operate, discussing radar, light direction, and cameras to gather data and utilize sensors for efficient and safe driving. 

Navya Technologies on the other hand, is a 2-year-old company based in Lyon, France. In June, the firm announced its plans to build the Arma shuttles at a new plant in Ann Arbor. Navya is aiming to build 20 vehicles by the end of this year and hopes to sell them to commercial buyers. 

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Henri Coron, Navya’s vice president for sales, said, “To create a market, we need a vision and a strong partner. The important thing is to create this market in the US.” It should be noted that Arma shuttles are already driven on roads around the world, having been designed for theme parks and large campus-like environments such as the University of Michigan. 

The autonomous shuttles will start by running on U-M roads during business hours. The main goal of testing the new shuttles is to monitor consumer interest and acceptance, at no cost to riders. There will be a safety monitor person in the vehicle at all times, along with emergency stop buttons for passengers to use if needed. 

The self-driving vehicle industry is fast-growing, and Michigan is continuing to prove that we are a step ahead of the pack. While the future of autonomous is very near, in the current driving environment, drivers must continue to pay attention to traffic rules and take safety precautions when riding in vehicles, including the Arma shuttle. The last thing anyone wants is to be injured in an automobile accident. Staying informed of new car technology developments, including the latest self-driving technology, can offer a better road experience for everyone, now and in the future. 


The University of Michigan is preparing to take another leap into the world of self-driving cars with the launch of autonomous shuttles on campus this fall. However, student safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road, will remain of utmost importance. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Introducing The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus

The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog has maintained a focus on the steady development of autonomous vehicle projects and the various companies that are preparing for future autonomous vehicle production. However, cars are not the only forms of transportation that will soon become automated.

Daimler, the creator of the Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles, is revolutionizing public city transportation by creating the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus, a semi-automated bus with CityPilot. CityPilot is an autonomous driving system designed by Daimler, that allows semi-automated buses to drive safely and efficiently in a special, designated lane up to 43 mph. According to Daimler’s website, the Future Bus has been the next development following the Mercedes-Benz Actros Truck with Highway Pilot, a partially automated semi-truck that has already been driving on its own, on motorways. The CityPilot system was created based off of Highway Pilot technology, yet it has undergone more advanced developments and possesses more functions.

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

CityPilot is equipped with about a dozen cameras that scan the road, while short and long radar systems monitor the route ahead. This allows the bus to recognize and communicate with traffic lights, perceive obstacles-most importantly pedestrians-operate and brake autonomously, and position itself precisely to the centimeter. The Future Bus can approach stops automatically and open its doors to let citizens in an out, drive through tunnels, includes a precise GPS navigation system, and can reach a top speed of 70 km/h (about 43 mph). For safety precautions, a human driver sits at the wheel to monitor the route, and may take control of the wheel at any moment if necessary.

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

The interior and exterior design gives the Future Bus a unique, futuristic look, while offering passengers a state-of-the-art, comfortable ride. The exterior offers a ground-breaking design including an array of smooth contours, cutting edge door layouts, and sleek lines designed to both appeal to the aesthetic and to put the 'future' in Future Bus. The interior is designed with an open, relaxed layout made up of 3 zones based on how long the passenger plans to ride. Each zone is comprised of very modern, comfortable seating, and the ceiling lights have been arranged to resemble a leaf canopy. Passengers are also able to access information and entertainment through large monitors in the middle passenger department, and can even charge their smartphones on charging pads next to their seats.

As reported by The Verge, the Future Bus has already been put to the test as it completed a 30 km (about 12 miles) route through the Netherlands back in July, 2016. This route included challenging turns, tunnels, traffic lights, and pedestrians. The bus was successfully able to navigate itself flawlessly without the driver needing to turn the wheel, brake, or accelerate at any moment.

Source:  Diamler

Source: Diamler

According to Mashable, unlike the Actros Truck with Highway Pilot, in which Daimler plans to begin production in 2020, the company does not plan to produce Future Bus Prototypes. Instead, Daimler plans to use certain parts of the advanced technology and semi-autonomous system to implement into regular city buses for the future, as well as focusing on the improvement of its zero-emission production plans. So, it could be possible that Detroit and other major Michigan cities such as Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint, and Ann Arbor, may have automated public transportation in the future!


The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus is a ground-breaking innovation built with safety features that far exceed what is humanly possible. With cameras and radar systems that can detect even the smallest motions during a route, and an autonomous driving system that can force itself to brake on a dime, it is hard to imagine any safety risks that can occur. However, it is imperative to note that buses, regardless if a human is driving or not, may prove a risk to citizens and may be prone to accidents. According to The Accident Data Center, over 55,000 people are injured by buses in the US per year. If you or anyone you know has been injured by a bus, car, or been in an accident of any kind, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.