August 31, 2018

Transdev, Babcock Ranch Debut First Autonomous School Shuttle

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Babcock Ranch, Fla., Aug. 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Highlights

Transdev, a global leader in mobility solutions, will operate school shuttle service starting this fall with an autonomous vehicle, the first in the world. Transdev is the mobility provider for Babcock Ranch, the nation’s first solar-powered community located just northeast of Fort Myers, Fla. The transportation system in the sustainable new town developed by Kitson & Partners is focused on decreasing dependency on personal vehicles by offering residents a broad range of more environmentally-friendly mobility alternatives

Yellow transdev autonomous shuttle parked outside Babcock Neighborhood School
Photo courtesy of Transdev

Photo courtesy of Transdev
Photo courtesy of Transde

The 12-person shuttle will operate from a designated pick-up area with a safety attendant on board. Eventually, school shuttle service will be available to students and parents on demand, door to door, using an integrated app on their smartphones.
The EasyMile Easy10 Gen II is fully electric and reacts 30 times faster than a human driver. Currently, the shuttle travels at a top speed of 8mph, with the potential to reach speeds of 30mph once the necessary infrastructure is complete.
Transdev is starting the autonomous school shuttle service this fall to transport students living within the new community to Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS).
The public charter school boasts a total enrollment of 316 students in grades K-7 for the current school year – and the number of those students living at Babcock Ranch will steadily increase as their new homes under construction are completed. Nearly 30 BNS students will be Babcock Ranch residents by January of this year.
Safety is always the company’s and the community’s No.  1 priority. A safety attendant will remain on board the vehicle at all times while students are riding. The route and operation will be fully autonomous.
Transdev and Babcock Ranch share a vision of and commitment to the future of mobility that will be personalized, autonomous, connected and sustainable. Drawing on that vision, Transdev plans to use its global expertise in 20 countries on six continents to provide better mobility for residents and visitors of Babcock Ranch.
School shuttle service is part of an overall strategic plan to deliver autonomous technology designed around the needs of Babcock Ranch residents. Eventually grocery delivery, package delivery and door-to-door self-storage pickup and drop off will complement a growing suite of choices for families and students.
The first autonomous school shuttle in the world will debut this fall at Babcock Ranch in Florida.

Transdev, the mobility partner for Babcock Ranch, is completing more than two months of testing on school shuttle routes that will supplement existing autonomous options within the community. During the pilot-program, Transdev will evaluate rider behavior and demand by offering the service to Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS) students who live within the new town located just northeast of Fort Myers. As the town—the first solar-powered community in the country—continues to grow to its estimated capacity of nearly 50,000 residents, mobility options will continue to evolve to meet new demands, including student transit.

“Imagine how excited these students will be the first time that yellow school shuttle pulls up outside their house. What an incredible moment for them,” said Dick Alexander, Executive Vice President of Mobility Innovation at Transdev. “Not only are we providing an important mobility option for these children, but what an opportunity for them to see the amazing power of science, technology, engineering and math that help this shuttle run safely and efficiently. The whole experience is something we hope they will never forget.”

BNS students living within the community will be the first in the nation to catch a ride to school on an autonomous shuttle. Nearly 30 of the 316 students enrolled in grades K-7 at BNS this year will be residing within the new solar-powered town by January.

Safety is always the highest priority. The 12-person Easy Mile EZ10 Gen II shuttle reaches a standard cruising speed of 8mph and brakes automatically and swiftly when obstacles are detected—a new software update will even allow the shuttle to maneuver around an obstacle if safe conditions permit. A safety attendant will remain on board at all times students are riding to ensure their comfort and to answer all the questions curious minds may have about autonomous technology. Transdev will test the autonomous shuttle with students and families before the pilot officially begins.

“It makes me wish I were a kid again,” said Syd Kitson, CEO of Kitson & Partners, the developers behind Babcock Ranch. “This is a sign of progress and a sincere testament to a shared commitment to sustainable living. For many of the kids moving in and living here, autonomous school shuttles will be the only school transit they ever know. I’m definitely jealous of them and so proud of this concept.”

As part of that dedication to sustainability, walking and biking will always be encouraged. For days with foul weather, or for students who live farther from the school, the autonomous shuttle will remain a viable option during the pilot. Eventually, students and parents will be able to book on-demand, door-to-door school shuttles based on individual needs.

Babcock Ranch and Transdev have been offering autonomous shuttle service since the town opened in January as part of an overall devotion to reducing reliance on automobiles. The school shuttle service will utilize all the knowledge and expertise gained during that time, as well as complement Transdev’s global AV operations, including the first open-road autonomous shuttle in Europe.

About Babcock Ranch
Located in Southwest Florida just north of Fort Myers, Babcock Ranch is an innovative town that sets a whole new standard for sustainable, responsible growth. From the largest solar-plus-storage system operating in the U.S. today and expansive public green spaces and trails to the gigabyte of fiber-optic connectivity standard to every home—and free wi-fi everywhere you within the community—it’s a place where families can benefit from the most advanced technologies, then walk out their doors to reconnect with nature and neighbors. Babcock Ranch will ultimately include 19,500 homes and six-million square feet of commercial space.

About Kitson and Partners
Kitson & Partners is a private residential and commercial real estate investment and development company based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Kitson & Partners’ portfolio includes 1.5 million square feet of retail shopping centers, 6.8 million square feet of commercial entitlements, and 21,500 entitled residential units. With a 25-year track record and long-term institutional capital, Kitson & Partners’ operational expertise and financial strength are unparalleled in the Florida real estate development business