French-based transport firm Transdev has been ordered to stop an “unlawful” test of a driverless school bus in Florida by US regulators. The regulator said the firm had not been authorized to transport schoolchildren in Florida and said the test was “irresponsible” and “inappropriate”. Transdev said it would stop the test a week early.
The firm said it believed the pilot met testing requirements. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the test of the EZ10 Generation II driverless shuttle in the Babcock Ranch community in Florida was outside the scope of what the firm had been authorized to do.
The NHTSA said it had given Transdev permission in March to import the driverless shuttle on a temporary basis for testing and demonstration purposes, but not as a school bus. The regulator said it had sent a letter to the firm ordering it to “immediately stop transporting schoolchildren” or risk fines, “the voiding of the temporary importation authorization, and/or the exportation of the vehicle”.
The company said it believed the pilot met the requirements of the testing and demonstration project approved by NHTSA for adults and children to ride on the same route. It added that it did not sacrifice safety for progress, would never do so, and was committed to complying with regulations. In August the firm said the fully electric shuttle for 12 people, which would operate with a safety attendant, had a top speed of 8mph, with a potential of reaching 30mph.