Ford, MIT team up to test on-demand electric shuttle service

Ford, MIT team up to test on-demand electric shuttle service

Ford Motor Company partners with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to test electric shuttles which uses laser light technology that can detect the movement of nearby pedestrians. With this, the American marque will deploy electric vehicles onto the MIT campus.  

The electric shuttles are mounted with LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors and “inexpensive cameras” which can measure pedestrian flow and help predict demand for the shuttles. Through this, researchers can study the pattern and determine which areas have the highest demand. Moreover, the data gathered by the LiDAR and cameras will be combined with weather information and class schedules to understand pedestrian traffic patterns.  

The onboard sensors and cameras gather pedestrian data to estimate the flow of foot traffic. This helps us develop efficient algorithms that bring together relevant data. It improves mobility-on-demand services, and aids on-going pedestrian detection and mapping efforts for autonomous vehicle research,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering. 

The electric shuttle service will be introduced to a group of MIT students and faculty early September. They will be able to hail 1 of 3 electric shuttles through a mobile app in order to transport them to and from class; a process which is similar to Uber and Grab. Of note, Ford said that the electric shuttles are small enough to navigate the campus' sidewalks while leaving room for pedestrian traffic.   

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