NHTSA directs driverless shuttle to stop transporting school children in Florida
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a letter directing Transdev North America to immediately stop transporting school children in the Babcock Ranch community in Southwest Florida on the EZ10 Generation II driverless shuttle. Transdev’s use of the driverless shuttle to transport school children is unlawful and in violation of the company’s temporary importation authorization. NHTSA’s action aligns with the Department’s guidance related to automated vehicles, as most recently outlined in Automated Vehicles 3.0: Preparing for the Future of Transportation.
"Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety," said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator. "Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project,"
In March 2018, NHTSA granted Transdev permission to temporarily import the driverless shuttle for testing and demonstration purposes. Transdev requested permission to use the shuttle for a specific demonstration project, not as a school bus. Transdev failed to disclose or receive approval for this use. School buses are subject to rigorous Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that take into account their unique purpose of transporting children, a vulnerable population.
NHTSA notified Transdev that failure to take appropriate action may result in a civil penalty action, the voiding of the temporary importation authorization, and/or the exportation of the vehicle. Transdev has informed NHTSA that it will stop unapproved operations.