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Self-driving school bus -- what's wrong with this picture?
It's not a test, but if it were, the self-driving school bus company just failed. After several weeks cruising driverless in suburban Florida, the pilot project has reached the end of the road.
Federal regulators shut down Transdev for obvious reasons. It's a French company.
Actually, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stopped the bus for two reasons: 1) the French company didn't have NHTSA permission to test a school bus; and 2) it's a school bus!
Transdev didn't exactly hide its operation. It sent out a press release in August, saying the school shuttle was the first in the world. The electric vehicle would carry 12 passengers -- elementary school children -- and go no more than eight miles an hour.
Emphasizing safety features, the press release said a human safety driver would be on board. The vehicle would also react to traffic conditions 30 times faster than a human driver, the company said.
Not good enough, the safety administration said. An agency spokesperson said Transdev violated the terms of its temporary permit.
Heidi King, deputy administrator of the agency, said "innovation must not come at the risk of public safety."
"Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev's approved test project," she said.
Ars Technica, reporting on the development, did not have a response from Transdev. Roughly translated, that means "sans commentaires."