Following six months of extensive on-campus testing and more than 650 test runs, Michigan State University’s full-size autonomous electric bus initiative has started accepting passengers on a 2.5-mile campus route.

The 22-seat Karsan Autonomous e-ATAK bus, believed to be one of the largest of its kind to be deployed on public US roads to date, was recently approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The project is a collaboration with the State of Michigan, bus manufacturer Karsan and Michigan-based ADASTEC, which develops SAE Level-4 automated driving software platforms for commercial vehicles.

ADASTEC’s software platform incorporates a range of sensor, safety and mapping equipment on the bus that also supports data sharing, mission control and fleet management operations. The bus is also fitted with a wheelchair ramp along with audio messaging for accessibility.

Traffic lights along the 2.5-mile route are equipped with intelligent roadside units which communicate with the bus to enable vehicle to infrastructure interoperability. A licensed safety driver and operator from ADASTEC’s Ann Arbor office will be on-board at all times.

Michigan State University will study and analyse various aspects of the project, from vehicle to infrastructure communication technologies to the user experience for people with disabilities.