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MSU gains federal approval to operate autonomous bus service

Derrick L. Turner
MSU's autonomous bus has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given Michigan State University the green light to offer autonomous bus service on campus.

MSU’s autonomous electric bus has operated on campus since last November, performing 650 test runs on a 2.5-mile route. Federal approval makes the service one of the biggest of its kind in the country.

Adam Lawver, director of campus services in the infrastructure, planning and facilities department at MSU, says while the bus is autonomous, an alert driver is always ready to take control if needed.

“I think when you ride it, you’ll see that they’re very much actively participating and observing, just like you would if you were driving the bus,” Lawver said.

Lawver says the driver can take over when a vehicle is blocking a lane of traffic.

“Another scenario could be a construction zone where you might have cones and barrels that are able to be detected by the technologies, but it’s just good practice safely to take over manual control in those types of situations,” he added.

The route runs weekdays from the commuter lot at Farm Lane and Mt. Hope Road to the MSU Auditorium.

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