NCDOT, National Park Service launch self-driving shuttle at Wright Brothers National Memorial

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KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (WAVY) — There’s a new ride in town and it’s driverless.

The Connected Autonomous Shuttle Supporting Innovation, or CASSI for short, just debuted at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.

CASSI will be the first self-driving vehicle to be tested at a recreational public lands site. The pilot testing of the vehicle will be held at the Wright Brothers National Memorial for the next three months. It will take passengers from the museum to the First Flight bronze sculpture and back.

NCDOT officials say CASSI will help transportation officials learn more about how driverless vehicles can be safely and effectively used in the future. CASSI’s pilot program will collect information including the numbers of passengers, trips, and the shuttle’s battery usage.

The vehicle navigates its routes using remote sensing laser technology called LiDAR and GPS used to map and then monitor a fixed route. Officials say sensors in the vehicle continuously scan the shuttle’s surroundings and signal for it to stop when an obstacle is too close.

Although CASSI might be driverless, a trained customer service operator will ride inside as part of the pilot to ensure the safety of the passengers. The operator will be able to manually stop the vehicle at any time of the ride.

Rides are free. However, the number of passengers is limited due to the size of the vehicle and space limitations due to COVID-19. 

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