AUSTIN, Texas - Move over driverless cars, Cap Metro is talking about putting their own driverless vehicles on the streets.
"These are 15 person almost minibus style. They're good for circulators, college campuses, they might work in the future for neighborhoods,” said Randy Clarke, president and CEO at Capital Metro.
Cap Metro calls it the autonomous transit vehicle. Transit officials are going to begin testing in July.
“It's one piece of a network solution,” said Clarke.
Spencer Moorman takes the bus to work downtown, every weekday.
“It's pretty convenient for me, there's a bus that picks up pretty close,” he said.
He is open to the new idea, but questions how the technology will perform in the long run.
“I might watch it go down the street a few times before I get on there. I was on a bus the other day and twice two cars pulled out at the last second and cut in front of it. The bus had to stop and watch out for it. I'd be interested in seeing in a situation like that, how reactive it is,” said Moorman.
Cap Metro says, safety for passengers, drivers, and pedestrians is one thing no one will need to worry about. They will have an operator on the bus to make sure things run smoothly.
“They're covered with cameras and sensors. If you got within a couple of feet, the vehicle would automatically stop,” said Clarke.
In fact, he says these vehicles are safer than humans.
“Humans get tired, humans drink, humans do drugs, humans text, robots don't do any of that,” said Clarke.
If all goes well cap metro hopes to begin a pilot program this fall, rolling out 6-8 vehicles. Customers can hop on board.
"I take the service every day, I'm a customer. I’m doing everything I can to make sure that every dollar generated through sales tax and customer fares is done for the ultimate benefit for the customers and community,” said Clarke.
The technology overall, has fallen under scrutiny after an Uber driverless car hit and killed a pedestrian. Capital Metro says they are not worried about the technology failing, but are keeping operators on board just in case.