By the end of this year, Toyota will be autonomous.
The idea of autonomous vehicles is not new, but getting them integrated into daily life is still a long way away. The tech is improving though; Volkswagen will soon release autonomous vans and GM says that mainstream use of the tech will happen sooner than expected. There are still hurdles to overcome, as the likes of Tesla know all too well, but Toyota is making the tech more accessible than ever by offering Indianapolis residents free shuttles with autonomous vehicles. This comes as part of a collaboration between the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and May Mobility, the last of which is a leader in autonomous vehicle tech and shuttle operations.
The free service is to be offered in downtown Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis communities "to test the interoperability of mobility innovations and facilitate the efficient movement of people and goods." The service also supports the United Nations' goal of making cities and communities more sustainable. For those looking to experience it, the shuttle service will be available from November 19th this year on weekdays from 7 AM to 7 PM. You won't be transported in a Prius either, as the service features five Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM electric vehicle. But what about the route that these vehicles will take?
Toyota says there will be nine designated stops in the city, with each identifiable by a sign that provides route information and a scannable QR code that takes you to the Together in Motion Indiana website. This site gives more detailed route info and May Mobility's goals. The shuttles arrive in 10- to 15-minute intervals on a rotating loop, so getting to the next stop won't take long. The route is said to have been designed "to increase mobility options by providing a connection from the Vermont Station to areas west of downtown." The route also circles the IU Health University Hospital and the Riley Hospital for Children campuses. Finally, riders can plan their trips on Google Maps and see live updates of a shuttle's location.
This seems to be a great way to introduce the technology to the public. Now we just need the tech to become available on privately owned vehicles.