FISHERS, Ind. — Autonomous vehicles are ushering Hoosiers around Fishers.
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., passengers can take a free ride through the Nickel Plate District.
The SUV shuttles will pick you up–and drop you off–just about anywhere you can think to go in town, with stops at Super Target, med centers, the post office, the library, two different apartment complexes and plenty of bars and restaurants.
The program is a collaboration between Fishers, Energy Systems Network and tech creators May Mobility. If it sounds familiar to you, it’s because this stop along the way is the second phase; it launched first in downtown Indianapolis in June 2021.
While you’ll no longer see the shuttles in Indianapolis, you will find them in Fishers until June.
The fleet of five represents not only the future of the industry, but also the future of Fishers, May Mobility Operations Manager Vincent Gill said it’s the first mode of public transportation in the city.
“Here in Fishers what we’re doing is seeing how self-driving vehicles, self driving shuttles, can integrate into a city that doesn’t currently have any public transportation,” Gill said. “Fishers is a very up and coming city, so it only feels right to start using self-driving cars here.”
May Mobility says the experience of riding in one of the shuttles is a lot like taking a ride with your safest friend.
Each car, decked out in camera, sensors, gadgets and gizmos galore from wheel well to windshield, operates at a max speed of 22 mph. While these cars do turn themselves, brake themselves and monitor their own speed, an attendant still sits behind the wheel at all times just in case a situation, like snow, squalls up, then the driver takes control.
“We do have someone behind the wheel at all times… that’s our Autonomous Vehicle Operators, who are there for safety as well as customer service and education. If we were to encounter a snow storm or anything like that… that would be a manual event, so that would mean that the AVO would take over to drive through that,” Gill said.
Most often though, AVOs just answer questions like is the car really driving itself?
“Passengers are blown away when the answer is yes, because it’s a very smooth, very safe, very comfortable ride,” Gill said. “It’s something you don’t need to worry about.”
If you’re interested in sitting behind the wheel of one of the shuttles, May Mobility is looking for part time AVOs; positions start at $18 an hour.
May Mobility also operates one shuttle specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. There are numbers to call for this shuttle posted on stops along the route, with priority for those individuals.