Tuesday, June 18, 2024

MSU Mobility asks public to vote for name of new electric autonomous bus

May 29, 2024
<p>MSU&#x27;s first autonomous bus stops at the Auditorium bus stop. The bus has a capacity nearing 40, but until research is complete, only 15 riders are allowed on. July 13, 2022</p>

MSU's first autonomous bus stops at the Auditorium bus stop. The bus has a capacity nearing 40, but until research is complete, only 15 riders are allowed on. July 13, 2022

A single online vote for a contest can help determine the name for MSU Mobility’s new full-size autonomous vehicle.

MSU Mobility aims to deploy this autonomous bus, a collaboration with ADASTEC, a software company that specializes in automated driving software and Vicinity Motor Corp, an electric and clean energy vehicle production company, for the fall semester.

Judd Herzer, MSU Mobility director, said that an initial version of the bus was on campus two years ago for early-stage testing. Its return in the fall will reintroduce the vehicle which has undergone large amounts of testing to ensure proper functionality. 

“We’ll have done hundreds of rides with no passengers just to make sure that everything’s working and both the infrastructure and vehicle are in sync with one another,” Herzer said.

So, why hold a contest to name this new vehicle?

“It was kind of a twofold thought,” Herzer said. “First, we wanted to help ADASTEC feel like they’re a part of the Spartan community. The second was getting the Spartan community excited with not just ADASTEC, but autonomous vehicle technology in general.”

Herzer said the contest was a way to make people more curious about the bus and people interested in taking a ride on it.

The contest’s first phase, submitting potential names for the bus, has ended. It was only open to students, with 240 submitting and 120 unique names counted. 

A committee with MSU Mobility selected the four finalists:

  • SpartanXpress.
  • Spartanomous.
  • Spartabus.
  • Campus Cruiser

The second phase allows the general public to vote online to determine the final name for the vehicle.

The student who submits the winning name will also receive one year of free Spin scooter rides on MSU’s campus and given the opportunity to see the new name on the side of the bus, according to MSU Mobility.

Voting began on May 23 and ends on Friday, May 31.

When the bus does eventually find its way on campus in the fall semester, it will not be a full-scale transit operation, Herzer said. The bus instead serves as a research platform.

“We are going to be using it for sensing equipment, sensor fusion technology, compute technology, different methods of programming and driving behaviors,” Herzer said.

When looking towards the future of mobility technology in vehicles, Herzer said that it may hold many potential uses of autonomous technology on campus.

“All of these new innovations that are coming to light in the mobility sector boom great promise for how we can make the transportation industry safer, more accessible and more equitable,” Herzer said. “As we continue to unlock the technology and get it to life, in general you can anticipate seeing more autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.”

Cast your vote here: https://bit.ly/3ypzWZd

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