Disney is always looking to bring about new ways to help the guests in their theme parks, and driverless shuttles would only add to that. Along with a new gondola system that is set to begin construction soon, Walt Disney World is planning to use driverless shuttles to transport guests through the parking lots. These shuttles are expected to begin testing at some point before the end of this year.
Yes, even with the planned addition of the gondola system to the fleets of monorails, boats, and buses that take guests all around Walt Disney World property, there is always room for more.
According to the LA Times, the driverless shuttles that Disney plans to launch at their Florida theme parks will be the “highest-profile commercial deployment of driverless passenger vehicles to date.” These new vehicles will transport guests through parking lots and possibly from theme park to theme park.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) April 29, 2017
As of now, the driverless shuttles are only going to be tested at Walt Disney World, and there are no plans to have them at Disneyland or other parks around the world.
Florida has very few restrictions on driverless vehicles, and that could be a huge reason why Walt Disney World is testing them, and Disneyland is not. California apparently has seriously strict regulations on driverless shuttles, but those are reportedly undergoing alterations.
These vehicles wouldn’t be the first time that Disney has considered driverless transportation. Walt Disney World has been working to overhaul their monorail system and have tinkered with the idea of running that system without pilots.
My News 13 is reporting that Disney is in talks with Local Motors in Phoenix and Navya in Paris to manufacture the driverless shuttle vehicles for them. Each vehicle would be able to carry up to 15 guests and travel at speeds of 25 mph or more.
Radars, lasers, and cameras would be used by the computer system of the vehicle to help guide and direct it. As Disney continues talks with both companies, there is an advantage on the side of Local Motors as they allow for the exteriors of their vehicles to be themed, which Disney would truly like to do.
— News 13 (@MyNews13) May 1, 2017
Disney has not yet said anything about the driverless shuttles, as the LA Times received the information from a source who wished to remain anonymous. The source did not wish to “offend” Disney, but they said the company plans to run a pilot program later in 2017.
The driverless shuttle tests will have cast members transported between locations on Walt Disney World property. If all goes well with the tests, the vehicles will begin transporting guests at some point next year.
Las Vegas, Singapore, and Washington, D.C. already employ driverless shuttles, which began testing back in 2016. Orlando certainly wouldn’t be the first, but it would be a huge lift for Walt Disney World and cut down on the guest traffic using the trams in parking lots.
There is absolutely no shortage of new things coming to the Disney family over the course of the next five years, but this may be one of the most interesting. With the most popular method of transportation being the monorail followed by boats, buses, and trams, the driverless shuttles could be the next big thing. Walt Disney World is doing whatever they can to help their guests, and this could be just what is needed for extra convenience.
[Featured Image by Serge Mouraret/Getty Images]