The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered a transit operator last week to immediately stop transporting school children in Southwest Florida on a driverless shuttle.
The NHTSA on Friday issued a letter to Transdev North America directing the company to halt usage of their EZ10 Generation II driverless shuttle as a school bus for students in the Babcock Ranch community. The agency said Transdev’s use of the driverless shuttle to transport school children is unlawful and in violation of the company’s temporary importation authorization.
NHTSA’s action aligns with the U.S. DOT’s guidance related to automated vehicles, as most recently outlined in Automated Vehicles 3.0: Preparing for the Future of Transportation.
In March 2018, NHTSA granted Transdev permission to temporarily import the driverless shuttle for testing and demonstration purposes, as the company requested permission to use the shuttle for a specific demonstration project, not as a school bus. NHTSA said Transdev failed to disclose or receive approval for this use, and that school buses are subject to rigorous Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that take into account their unique purpose of transporting children.
NHTSA notified Transdev that failure to take appropriate action may result in a civil penalty action, the voiding of the temporary importation authorization, and/or the exportation of the vehicle. Transdev has informed NHTSA that it will stop unapproved operations.