Students could start hailing rides later this year.

Ford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working to make autonomous ridesharing a reality – starting with three electric shuttles on the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus. The little vehicles are full of innovative tech that could be the future of personal transportation.

The shuttles use LiDAR and cameras that monitor how pedestrians move around the campus. Algorithms also let the vehicles predict where demand for them would be the most likely. The carts are always where they are most necessary because the software even takes into account the weather and class schedules for different semesters.

The project’s next big step comes in September when a group of students and faculty can start using a smartphone app to hail the vehicles and request a ride to another destination on the campus. Their small size lets the carts drive around on sidewalks, too.

Ford is using innovations from the work with MIT on its Dynamic Shuttle project in Dearborn, Michigan. The development there also aims to create an on-demand ride hailing service that can carry employees round the site. As the tech improves, the Blue Oval could eventually bring these technologies to consumers.

An autonomous ridesharing service like Uber but without human drivers seems inevitable. Google is reportedly considering the idea, and pending laws in Michigan could allow public testing. Partnerships like the one between General Motors and Lyft also point the way towards this future.

Source: Ford

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