The United States has banned a self-contained circular bus in Florida for conducting pilot tests with children on board, as reported it's a statement the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA maintains that the company Transdev had permission since March to carry out pilot tests and demonstrations with the vehicle, but not to use it "like a school bus".
The use of an unsupported vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate and directly violates the terms of the approved test project
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
"The use of an unsupported vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate and directly violates the terms of the approved test project," NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said in a statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls the pilot program "illegal" and claims that Transdev did not inform them properly when it requested permission to drive with the bus at Babcock Ranch, a community of about 68 square kilometers southwest of Florida. . "School buses are subject to rigorous federal motor vehicle safety standards that take into account their unique purpose of transporting children, a vulnerable population," says NHTSA.
Transdev explains in a statement published this Monday that has agreed to stop this project and has ensured that the bus "operated safely, without any problem, in a totally controlled environment." The company says it believed that the project met the requirements for both adults and children to travel in The same route The school transport service, according to the company, has only been offered on Fridays for five weeks to a maximum of five students who had the authorization of their parents.
The company alleges that the bus "operated safely, without any problem, in a totally controlled environment"
The vehicle used for the tests was an EZ10 Generation II and had the capacity to transport up to 12 children together with a supervisor. The company already published in September a statement in which he informed that from the autumn the bus would be the first in the world to offer a school transport service.
"Safety is always the number one priority of the company and the community. A security assistant will remain on board the vehicle at all times while the students are traveling, "he said. In addition, according to the company, the bus brakes automatically and quickly when it detects obstacles
The vehicle, Trandev explained, would operate from a collection area designated by a safety assistant on board and would travel at about 13 kilometers per hour – although it has the potential to reach speeds of 48 kilometers per hour – to the Babcock Neighborhood School. "Later, the school transport service will be available to students and parents door to door using an integrated application on their smartphones," says the company in the article.
"Imagine how excited these students will be the first time the yellow school bus stops outside their home," said Dick Alexander, executive vice president of business development and innovation at Transdev. they would live "a unique experience": "We are not only providing an important mobility option for these children, but also an opportunity for them to see the incredible power of science, technology, engineering and mathematics that help this shuttle to function in a safe and efficient way ".
Lisa Hall, a spokesperson for Babcock Ranch, told the media specializing in technology The Verge that students have only been able to travel in the transportation service on specific days and, otherwise, they walk or ride the bicycle to school. "They will be disappointed because they have enjoyed being pioneers of this new technology," Hall explained. The bus has also been offered as a public transport service for all citizens, according to the spokesperson.
This is one of the first interventions of the NHTSA in the sector of autonomous vehicles. "Innovation should not put public safety at risk," the administration explained. Several companies carry out pilot tests with autonomous buses that circulate at low speed in other cities of the world such as Cambridge (United Kingdom), according to the BBC. And in some of these trials, there has already been an incident. For example. Last year a self-propelled bus crashed into a truck on its first day of testing in the US city of Las Vegas, although police explained that it was the driver's fault.