Driverless Cars Free Test Run in Brooklyn Navy Yards

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Aug. 7 2019, Published 10:44 a.m. ET

In the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you can ride in a car without a driver starting this week. Driverless Optimus Ride cars will now shuttle people to and from the new ferry landing for free. This autonomous vehicle company has never had any accidents with their cars, unlike Uber and Tesla, who together have killed four people testing their self-driving cars.

words by Kai Collado-Vazquez

Optimus Ridesuccessfully completed 20,000 rides around the Boston seaport and Boston suburbs since 2015. The cars do not require drivers, but there is always a safety driver and software operator on-board in case anything goes wrong. Ryan Chin, Co-founder of Optimus Ride, claims driverless cars are safer than cars with drivers because people driving can be intoxicated, tired, or distracted. Chin told The New York TimesThose are all human characteristics we can actually program out of the vehicle. Our computers will never get tired as long as there’s power.”

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While engineers claim driverless cars should not be on roads for five more years, they say using them as shuttles or in less crowded places is safe. Uber tests their cars in a fake city now, with dummies crossing streets and other cars around each other so they can improve the safety of their autonomous vehicles.

Driverless cars are not the first innovation being tested at the Navy Yards, though. Citi Bike was first tested at the Brooklyn Navy Yard along with drones, which are also tested there and used to inspect buildings. David Ehrenberg, the president and chief executive of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, told The Times, “There is — we think — no better place than the Navy Yard to test and learn about new technologies.”

People who work at the Navy Yard are skeptical of these shuttles still, saying they’ve never been on them before. Many are still afraid of this new technology, but in the future it may solve problems such as looking for parking in crowded cities.

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