Watch CBS News

Self-Driving Shuttles Hit The Streets At Santa Clara University

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) -- At Santa Clara University, walking to class is so, like, basic.

Monday is the first day the public gets to ride Auro, an autonomous self-driving campus shuttle, the only one of its kind in the country.

The shuttle is equipped with LIDAR sensors that give the computer a 360 degree view, and tracks objects 100 yards away.

Walk in front of it, and the system knows a human is trying to cross the road.

What makes Auro different, is that they've captured a 3D map of the route.

So, in a sense, the shuttle is driving around in its own virtual world.

The system is programmed to almost always yield the right of way, be non-threatening, and make pedestrians feel welcome.

"So, it feels like a human driving it. Like a nice, courteous human driving it," Auro CTO Jit Ray Chowdhury said.

"When I saw something come out in front of it, it just comes to a complete stop and waits for that obstacle to clear. So, when I saw that happen, I was like OK, these guys know what they're doing," student Tim O'Keefe said.

However, teaching it to be assertive, like in a crowd of people, is a complex problem.

When things get hairy, the operator takes over manual control using a joystick.

Eventually, the computer will learn what to do and how to react on its own.

Auro hopes to equip other college campuses and large companies with a fleet of on-demand shuttles.

Take a ride. Come take a ride and you won't fear it anymore," Auro co-founder and CEO Nalin Gupta said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.