With recent layoffs, questionable return on investment, and public pushback in some places, it seems like the dream of robot-driven vehicles will remain a dream.1 That may not be the case, however, as some credible and long-established entities displayed electric, autonomous, shared shuttles at CES2023.2
These shuttles share a mission to serve as a complement to public transit in either an on-demand or route-based approach. As such, customer experience, ongoing operations, and the ability to serve various business cases were a common thread of these offerings. Designing for inclusion, maintenance, safety, and cleanliness are some of the high-level attributes shared by these different providers.
The routes these shuttles navigate will be limited to an Operational Design Domain. That is, they won’t go everywhere at any time. The shuttles are really part of a bigger solution that includes customer ordering and pick-up/drop-off locations.
The autonomous technology that drives these vehicles was secondary and somewhat under the hood. This lack of hype for the technology and focus on operations probably bodes well for where these are in the product release cycle. Expect these shuttles to begin appearing on the road in commercial operation around 2025.
1 Navya’s announcement that it is in receivership is the latest industry disappointment. Navya was one of the early creators of an electric, shared autonomous shuttle. Viodi caught up with Navya at CES2018 in this interview.
2 Links to the interviews with the five companies referenced in the above video are at (in order of appearance in the above video)
- Envisioning a Future of Mobility Diversity and Versatility
- Zoox – Slow and Steady Road to Autonomy – #CES2023
- Automotive Grade Autonomous Electric Shuttle – #CES2023
- From A to ZF – An End-to-End Autonomous Mobility Approach
- Autonomous Mobility – Beyond the Amusement Park