NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Traffic in New York City can be maddening for anyone sitting behind the wheel, but now a company has come up with a plan to make things better for those trying to get around: Just let the vehicle drive itself.
The future of urban transportation could be in small driverless, self-driving vehicles like small shuttle buses ordered up from an app, reports CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.
The shift is the brainchild of Coast Autonomous, a company which came up with the concept and held a demonstration Tuesday in Times Square.
“Driverless vehicles, once they get fully deployed, are gonna be a lower coast because you don’t have the expense of a driver,” said Rick Baker, head of urban development for Coast Autonomous.
The company says its vehicles are perfect for short distance shuttle trips at airports, college campuses, theme parks and low speed, highly congested areas in New York City.
The vehicles are slow moving – only going up to 20 miles an hour – and hold up to 12 people at a time.
“We see during peak hours this could run on a fixed route and on off-peak hours, you call it from an app and it goes point-to-point as an on demand service,” said Adrian Sussman, managing director of Coast Autonomous.
The company claims it could reduce cars on the street and ease gridlock, but the city’s Department of Transportation says it has not had any official contact with Coast Autonomous.
Without a driver, the vehicle is equipped with sensors which the company says uses radar to detect the presence of pedestrians in crosswalks and traffic around it.
“When it sees an obstruction on the road it sends a signal for the vehicle to stop,” said Baker.
The company insists its vehicles are safe though clearly in the concept stage.
After testing them in seven countries, they hope to bring the vehicles to the U.S. next year.