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We Rode a Self-Driving Shuttle Around Times Square | News & Opinion

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The Coast autonomous shuttle is a low-speed, self-driving vehicle the company hopes to deploy in cities, college campuses, and theme parks. PCMag took a ride in Times Square.


COAST Autonomous Shuttle

Our self-driving future has arrived at a crisp speed of about 20mph.

While everyone from Google’s Waymo to Uber to Lyft, and carmakers from Ford to Volkswagen continue to develop and test more advanced self-driving vehicle tech, companies like Coast Autonomous have more modest autonomous ambitions.

Coast builds low-speed autonomous vehicles that are slow and uncomplicated by design; it also built a prototype self-driving golf kart and fleet management software to manage them. This week, the Pasadena-based company demoed its self-driving P-1 Shuttle in New York City on a 150-yard course in the middle of Times Square.

The P-1 is built with off-the-rack sensors and has a modular design that can be built in various sitting and standing room configurations. The shuttle can run on a pre-defined track, or in “low-speed mixed traffic,” but the shuttle can only hold between eight to 20 people, so its use in major cities with heavy traffic may be rather limited. You hail it with a smartphone app.

After taking a ride ourselves, it’s clear that the most useful settings for Coast shuttles are on a smaller scale for hop-on, hop-off transportation in places like airports, college campuses, and theme parks.

Coast expects to deploy its first fleets in 2019. Check out the video below for a closer look at the autonomous shuttle during its NYC demo.

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