“What is that?”
That thought may have crossed your mind if you’ve seen the rather unique looking vehicle motoring around the Basking Ridge, NJ, campus. That’s the EasyMile autonomous shuttle, designed to take folks from HQ to The Ridge meeting and events space a half mile down the road. And yes, “autonomous” means there is no one actively driving the vehicle, though as a safety precaution there is always a human on board monitoring the ride.
The EasyMile, which can carry up to seven passengers (including the “driver”), is special in a number of other ways.
“What gets me excited about the autonomous shuttle is that we’re using it in a live environment,” said Rob LoMonaco of the Sourcing team. “Other competitors out there are all in a remote, hermetically-sealed track.”
However, the EasyMile serves another important purpose beyond moving people: It also functions as a rolling high-tech 5G lab.
“Right now we have a 5G stream on the shuttle,” said Nicki Palmer, Chief Product Development Officer “That’s a great example of something that can be used on autonomous buses and other shuttles, and for some of our major enterprise customers that have similar needs. Over time, we plan to introduce multi-access edge computing to this platform and different types of infotainment that are a little more interactive.”
For now, our self-driving shuttle is one-of-a-kind, but Nicki knows it won’t be forever. “I think our children and our children’s children will be living in a much different vehicular world. This starts to get you thinking what that world will be like and how Verizon will be a part of it.”