For decades, Orlando amusement parks have provided a tangible look at the future. Oceaneering has been building the future seen at amusement parks in its Orlando manufacturing and test facility for decades as well. Oceaneering’s expertise goes well beyond the amusement park and includes products that serve aerospace, maritime and cargo logistics, and government and defense industries.
At CES2023, Marc Volger, Senior Autonomous Software Engineer ONS Orlando OEC, provides an overview of the ZF-designed, Oceaneering-built autonomous shuttle. The type of shuttle shown in the above video has been transporting people in Rotterdam as part of the Rivium 3.0 project for several years.
This self-driving vehicle, which has a capacity of up to twenty-two people, is the type that might be found at airports as a shuttle between terminals. Safety is a given, as it is designed to meet Automatic People Mover (APM) standards. In a follow-up email, Volger indicates that
This particular vehicle is designed for a segregated lane, where we do allow for intersections with other traffic and pedestrians. So this is more of a direct transit solution like an APM, but then much more versatile, flexible, and cost-effective [as compared to direct transit solutions].Follow-up from 1/30/23 email from Marc Volger
Accessibility, Flexibility, & Maintainability #
Accessibility is at the core of the design and is a priority for Oceaneering. Volger points out that they design stations that allow for minimal gap and a level boarding experience to make it easy for wheelchair boarding.
This bi-directional vehicle has a maximum speed of 25 MPH, which sounds slow, but compares favorably to traditional bus-based transit.1 It has a radius of 30 to 40 miles, which is more than adequate for the average bus journey of 3.7 miles.
Each axle is steerable, meaning it can move sideways allowing it to park in tight spaces and nudge up next to the curb. While it is parked during the passenger unloading and loading process, it automatically will charge. This “opportunity charge” effectively reduces the needed capacity for the onboard battery.
As Volger points out, opportunity charging is one of the features that allows for 24/7 operation. Easy cleaning, screens, and audible alerts (as heard in the above interview) for communicating with passengers, and, of course, self-driving allows these vehicles to operate at all hours without an onboard attendant.