Tech SA: Southwest Research Institute developing self-driving shuttle for research, campus tours

SWRI engineers develop 14 passenger shuttle with sensors, cameras and unique software

A team of engineers at the Southwest Research Institute hope their latest invention can help solve some of San Antonio’s infrastructure and mobility challenges.

SAN ANTONIO – A team of engineers at the Southwest Research Institute hope their latest invention can help solve some of San Antonio’s infrastructure and mobility challenges.

The engineers have designed a self-driving shuttle equipped with sensors, cameras and unique software. During operations, a driver sits behind the steering wheel as an additional safety measure.

“Everything that we’ve developed we are trying to integrate in this shuttle to showcase,” said Alex Youngs, Research engineer at Southwest Research Institute.

Engineers have been working on the shuttle for over a year, incorporating technology that the institute has developed over many years.

“We have lidars, which are spinning lasers. And we have cameras that are taking images of pedestrians, cars and other obstacles along our path,” Youngs said.

Youngs said the shuttle is programmed to drive unique routes around the institute.

The shuttle collects data every time it is on the road.

“That data can show us where we can make improvements, and what’s already working well,” Youngs said.

The shuttle is programmed to see moving objects, like bicycles and pedestrians.

Engineers believe the shuttle could help the community in many ways.

“These types of mobility services can help the disabled, the elderly, and in any underserved communities,” Youngs said.

Youngs said we are going to continue to see more of this technology in vehicles and is excited to be part of the project.

“I like being a part of such a changing growing industry,” Youngs said.

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