New York City’s first self-driving shuttle service opened to the public on Wednesday, taking passengers on a 1.1-mile loop around Brooklyn.
Optimus Ride launched the first autonomous vehicles that will roam around New York City. But don’t expect to see them shuffling tourists through Times Square.
The cars only loop around a 1.1-mile route, taking passengers from the Brooklyn Navy Yard entrance to the ferry dock on the East River, making it more accessible for commuters who ferry over.
There are six vehicles that operate in the 300-acre industrial space of Brooklyn Naval Yard, each capable of carrying up to six passengers. The system will transport an estimated 500 passengers per day.
The cars currently operate with two human “back-up” drivers. One behind the wheel and another in the passenger’s seat to monitor the vehicle’s sensors, according to The Verge.
“Launching our self-driving vehicle system in New York at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is yet another validation that not only is Optimus Ride’s system a safe, efficient means of transportation, but also that autonomous vehicles can solve real-world problems in structured environments – today,” Dr. Ryan Chin, the CEO and co-founder of Optimus Ride said in a statement. “In addition, our system will provide access to and experience with autonomy for thousands of people, helping to increase acceptance and confidence of this new technology, which helps move the overall industry forward.”
The autonomous vehicles are a long way off from roaming the streets of America’s most populated city. The Brooklyn Naval Yard provides a perfect testing pad for the system because the streets are private and self-contained. Because they’re operating on private streets, the vehicles don’t need to wait for DMV approval.
The city has been previously resistant to autonomous vehicles due to regulations.
The system will be in service from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m every day.
The autonomous shuttle system comes as the Brooklyn Naval Yard is undergoing a $2.5 billion renovation, which will see the opening of a film production studio, a Wegmans supermarket and a new office building.