Engineers at San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute unveil self-driving bus

Engineers hope their research will soon allow autonomous self-driving vehicles to be used in public settings.

click to enlarge SwRI is using this 14-seat self-driving vehicle to give tours of its campus. - Youtube / Southwest Research Institute
Youtube / Southwest Research Institute
SwRI is using this 14-seat self-driving vehicle to give tours of its campus.
After a year of development, San Antonio’s Southwest Research Institute unveiled a self-driving passenger bus that its engineers hope can one day yield technological solutions to the city's traffic woes.

The 14-seat vehicle cruises at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and is being used to give tours of the nonprofit research facility's 1,500-acre West Side campus, according to institute officials.

“It is rewarding for our engineers to take the very best technology that SwRI has developed to serve our clients and then embed it into a showcase vehicle that has a practical purpose in our backyard,” Ryan Lamm, director of SwRI’s Applied Sensing Department, said in an emailed statement.

The bus features artificial intelligence that can identify road signs and hazards such as other vehicles and pedestrians. What’s more, the vehicle utilizes machine learning algorithms, meaning it can learn from mistakes and improve its capabilities.

Although currently confined to the SwRI campus, researchers hope to upgrade the vehicle's capabilities so it can test other autonomous driving technologies.

“This mid-size passenger vehicle presents future opportunities to improve mobility and access to transportation in neighborhoods where large buses cannot travel,” SwRI Engineer Dan Rossite said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be able to say San Antonio not only has this capability at SwRI, but that we are helping to develop and deploy similar systems around the globe.”

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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