USF drives toward autonomous campus travel

Self-driving shuttles are one step closer to hitting the streets of the USF campus.

University researchers have been conducting a study into the new technology and how it would be implemented on campus.

The study was presented before the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization Tuesday morning.

Board members accepted the study, which was sponsored by the MPO.

The autonomous vehicles would provide students, faculty, and staff with another option to get around campus, said Brian Pessaro, a senior researcher at USF.

A yearlong pilot-program would allow researchers to learn about the new technology.

According to Pessaro, it would cost about $700,000 to put two self-driving shuttles on campus. Funding sources are still being considered.

Many students said they are excited by the possibility of riding in self-driving shuttles.

"It's nice to have your own college on the forefront of technology," said Teddy Mullet.

Others are hesitant.

"It kind of makes me a little nervous," said Shannon Dotzel.

If brought to campus, the self-driving shuttles would have an attendant inside at all times, said Pessaro, adding the yearlong pilot program would give researchers the opportunity to see if the technology is a good fit for the campus community.