National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lifts EasyMile suspension

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently outlined conditions lifting EasyMile’s temporary suspension that prevented the public from riding the autonomous shuttle after a passenger incident.

The NHTSA developed a new Safety Passenger Enhancement Plan with implications for the wider autonomous shuttle industry throughout North America, with guidelines for all autonomous shuttles imported to the United States.

The shuttles are designed for public transportation, officials said, noting they carry passengers at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and operate on a specified route. Currently, there is always a human safety operator on board while the technology evolves and becomes more widely used.

EasyMile officials maintain the shuttles enhance public transportation efforts by connecting hubs and providing
public service and jobs as Safety Operators.

“We’re excited about continuing to demonstrate and deliver the benefits of autonomous shuttles to the U.S. in the safest way possible, and in alignment with NHTSA,” Sharad Agarwal, senior vice president of EasyMile Inc., said. “We’re on the cusp of a transport revolution, and these projects provide the opportunity for the community to be part of the journey and the learning process. To see the benefits and see the future.”

Officials said in Columbus, Ohio, with the Linden LEAP departing from a stop, an internal safety mechanism was triggered, activating, as programmed, a sudden stop of the shuttle at 7.1 miles per hour. It was the safest response but led to a passenger falling from her seat.

Services will start up progressively as Covid-19 measures allow, and, as vehicle updates from the new plan are implemented, per EasyMile.