CCRTA unveils first-generation automated shuttle on campus

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Matthew Tamez

SURGE is a driverless vehicle now operating on TAMU-CC’s campus.

With the start of the spring semester, students may have already noticed the new SURGE shuttle transporting students around campus. This vehicle is an autonomous shuttle capable of driving on a set route without the need of a driver, and it is designed to operate solely on campus. The shuttle runs a route around the residential area on the western side of campus as well as the faculty center.

SURGE is currently the only autonomous vehicle used in Corpus Christi for public transit. TAMU-CC partnered with the Corpus Christi Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) to bring the shuttle to the campus.

SURGE was manufactured by the driverless technology company EasyMile. SURGE is a new generation of vehicle called the EZ 10 Generation III. While this vehicle is the first to be available for use in Corpus Christi, it is also the first of its generation to be used in North America.

“We’ve been working almost two years on the project,” said Rita Patrick, the marketing director of CCRTA. Patrick estimates that approximately 80,000 rides will be given out over the course of 2020.

The vehicle is equipped with recording devices both inside and outside the vehicle. It travels at a speed safe enough for emergency quick stops so people and animals will remain unharmed. While the vehicle itself is without a driver, an attendant is aboard the vehicle.

Students are a little apprehensive but also optimistic as well regarding SURGE.

“I think it’s good for the school then, …” said Michael Farrah, a freshman studying criminal justice. “It makes Corpus look really good.”

“What’s the point of having people work on the shuttle, but no one drive the shuttle?” said James Jezyk, a senior in communication studies. However, despite his question, he said he would not be against personally giving it a try.

SURGE will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday. Passengers will not need to pay a fee or show an id to be allowed on the shuttle. Individuals can also track the shuttle in real time using the TransLoc app.