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Driverless shuttle bus service begins at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia

Shuttle service featuring driverless vans begins at the Navy Yard
Shuttle service featuring driverless vans begins at the Navy Yard 01:56

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A new way to get around the Navy Yard in Philadelphia started on Tuesday. People at the Navy Yard can now use a driverless shuttle service to get around.

"Today it's super exciting, it's the public unveiling of our new autonomous shuttle here at the Navy Yard," Kate McNamara, of the Navy Yard, said.

The technology is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and made its debut and first trip around the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. 

"This is a nine-person shuttle that is gonna be serving the campus with four stops, and also eventually connecting the Navy Yard to NRG Station so folks can connect to the Broad Street Line," McNamara said. 

The electric, zero-emissions autonomous shuttle took passengers around the Navy Yard Tuesday morning. 

The driverless vehicle was developed by Perrone Robotics out of Charlottesville, Virginia. The company worked with Navy Yard officials to bring this pilot program to its sprawling campus.

"We have sensors around the vehicle… a really great GPS system, and using all those different features together, we're able to navigate along a predetermined path," Nick Pilipowksky, of Perrone Robotics, said. 

"It basically uses sensor technology to sense the environment around it, make sure it's safe. It's been training for months down here learning the terrain, learning the streets, learning all the obstructions that can pop up and maximizing safety for our riders," McNamara said. 

Donald Brock, a bus operator, will always be on board, but he will only step in to manually drive this shuttle bus when necessary in the event of an unforeseen obstruction that may pop up.  

"We had to go down to Virginia, they taught us everything about when to take over and how to take over," Brock said. 

The autonomous shuttle will go a long way in helping to alleviate parking challenges at the Navy Yard, smoothly allowing passengers a peaceful hands-free transit experience. 

"There's just more and more people on the campus every day, so this is gonna help us get more folks down here by transit," McNamara said. 

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