The Motor City is going hands-free this summer, as a fleet of self-driving cars will be used to whisk occupants to the 2020 Detroit Auto Show.
- The self-driving shuttles will be operated by two engineering firms with bases in Michigan – FEV and Dataspeed.
- The vehicles will operate on highways and city streets, running between Detroit Metro airport and two locations in downtown Detroit.
- Each route is approximately 15-20 miles and takes 20 minutes to drive.
Self-driving cars will be doing more than spinning around on display stands at the upcoming 2020 Detroit Auto Show. This summer, they’ll be shuttling visitors from the Detroit airport to two locations in the heart of the Motor City. The only catch: these airport drives will only be available during the press and industry preview days from June 8-11. However, there is more autonomous tech in store during the public days, too.
The MV-1 sedan, set to be used by FEV for its self-driving shuttle, was originally conceived around wheelchair accessibility. (Photo: Wikimedia)
It’s a bold and exciting step for an auto show to allow first-hand interaction with such cutting-edge technology. Should something go wrong, having a car full of journalists might be the last group of people a self-driving startup wants along for the ride. (And yes, as you’ve guessed, the Ride team will be reserving our own spot during the media preview!)
The two engineering firms – FEV and Dataspeed – were the winners of the Michigan Mobility Challenge, which invited companies to create vehicles capable of being self-driving cars for an airport shuttle run. FEV will be using the MV-1, a square-shaped sedan built by AM General in South Bend, Indiana. The MV-1 was originally created around the needs of drivers and passengers in wheelchairs.
Dataspeed is basing its self-driving shuttle on the Kia Niro hybrid, a small wagon/crossover with room for five occupants. Due to ongoing regulations for testing self-driving vehicles, an engineer will remain behind the wheel of each vehicle, should the car need human intervention.
Dataspeed, based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, will be using four Kia Niro hybrids in its fleet of self-driving airport shuttles. (Photo: Kia)
These won’t be the only autonomous vehicles hard at work in Detroit, however. Five companies will be operating shuttles with varying degrees of autonomous driving aids along fixed routes throughout the city. Called the “downtown Detroit circulator experiences,” they run from June 6-21 and will be available during the Detroit show’s public days.
WHY THIS MATTERS
What better way to make self-driving cars approachable than by putting them to work during an auto show. For the first time, Detroit has not only moved its show dates to the summer, it’s also made a strong effort to put autonomous technology at the forefront of the auto show experience.