Self-driving vehicles coming to ICAR

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Two self-driving vehicles will begin operating from Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville as part of a demonstration project, organizers disclosed.

They said the six-seat vehicles, resembling golf carts, will carry passengers between ICAR and the nearby Greenville Tech Center for Manufacturing Innovation.

SOURCE: SPECTRUM NEWS

The vehicles were scheduled to arrive at ICAR on Thursday, Aug. 17, and should be available to the public a few weeks after that, said Fred Cartwright, ICAR’s executive director.

Cartwright, who is part of a new group working to deploy self-driving vehicles locally, said members of the public will be able to summon the vehicles on demand through a smartphone app.

The shuttles will be provided by Robotic Research, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based company that conducts military research and previously used them to transport wounded warriors at the Fort Bragg Army base in North Carolina.

The vehicles’ relocation from Fort Bragg to ICAR was disclosed Tuesday, Aug. 15, during a meeting of Greenville County Council’s Committee of the Whole by Doug Webster, a commercial real estate broker from Greenville who is leading the effort to deploy self-driving vehicles locally.

Webster and others involved, including County Councilman Fred Payne, earlier secured an agreement from a Connecticut nonprofit organization to contribute up to $2 million toward their project.

The Connecticut nonprofit, called the Global Autonomous Vehicle Partnership, aims to hasten the adoption of computer-driven, or autonomous, vehicles, believing they will reduce traffic accidents and pollution and make the economy more efficient and productive. It was founded by Scott Case, former chief technology officer for Priceline.com, the internet travel service. Among its activities is supporting cities that are willing to be early adopters of autonomous vehicle technology.


Fort Bragg’s driverless shuttle | SOURCE: FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER


Webster and the others working with him plan additional deployments of self-driving vehicles, including at two other sites in Greenville: the Verdae development and the area around Legacy Charter School in west Greenville.

They have formed a nonprofit organization called Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation and are raising private funds.

Also part of the effort are Greenville City Councilman George Fletcher; industrial marketer Lee Stogner, founder of the electric vehicle committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; and Frank Mansbach, executive director of Bike Walk Greenville, a nonprofit promoting biking and walking connectivity.

On Aug. 15, Greenville County Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation that talks in broad terms about the possibility of the nonprofit using outside grant funding to work on “innovation related projects” blessed by the county.

“On a project basis with county approval, CA4I may be responsible for developing and brokering agreements, contracts and route permits for possible use with automated transportation and mobility infrastructure project vehicles, facilities, and equipment,” the MOU says.

The document also calls for a County Council member to join the Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation board.

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