Driverless shuttles gain steam in Michigan

A recent state test run at Western Michigan University of a four-seat driverless shuttle program for people with disabilities shows an on-demand driverless service can be more available than one requiring drivers, said Christopher Andrews, the director of mobility & innovation at Pratt & Miller Engineering.

Paratransit services use drivers for individualized routes. They work for the people who use them, but are limited in supply, Andrews said.

Pratt & Miller specializes in automation technology for defense programs and mobility industries.

The company won $2.1 million from an $8 million mobility challenge spearheaded by MDOT, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and other state agencies.

The challenge encouraged companies to apply improvements in automation technology for veterans, seniors and people with disabilities.