North Carolina DOT, National Park Service launch autonomous shuttle

Autonomous shuttle launched at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills

April 22, 2021 / 2 minute read
North Carolina DOT, National Park Service launch autonomous shuttle
Image: North Carolina DOT

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the National Park Service this week announced the launch of the first self-driving vehicle to be tested at a recreational public lands site in the nation.

The Connected Autonomous Shuttle Supporting Innovation (CASSI) was launched at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills—the site of the world’s first powered flight.

“This is a huge day for transportation,” North Carolina Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said at the launch event. “We’ve come such a long way since the Wright Brothers made their first historic flight here more than a century ago. Just like that milestone, we think the CASSI represents the start of another revolution for transportation.”

The CASSI will help the National Park Service and NCDOT learn more about how driverless vehicles can be safely and effectively used in the future. The CASSI will be tested at the Wright Brothers National Memorial for three months. 

The vehicle will navigate its route using remote sensing laser technology called LiDAR and GPS used to map and then monitor a fixed route. Sensors continuously scan the shuttle’s surroundings and signal for it to stop when an obstacle is too close. NCDOT is working with TransLoc to provide real-time tracking software and a map to keep riders updated on CASSI’s location on the NCDOT’s website.

During the pilot, information will be collected about things such as the number of passengers, trips, and the vehicle’s battery usage. NCDOT and NPS will use the data to better understand how autonomous vehicles perform in different settings. From now through July 16, the vehicle will take passengers from the Wright Brothers National Memorial museum to the First Flight bronze sculpture and back. 

The vehicle was originally introduced at the 2020 Transportation Summit in Raleigh and then it was piloted at N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus last spring.

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SOURCE: North Carolina DOT

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