Report: Walt Disney World to test driverless shuttles

By Ashley Carter, Attractions Insider
Last Updated: Monday, May 01, 2017, 1:45 PM EDT

Walt Disney World is planning to test driverless shuttles that would carry passengers through parking lots, the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • LA Times reporting that Disney World will test autonomous shuttles
  • Shuttles would initially transport cast members
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The pilot program, which has not been officially announced by Disney, would begin later this year with park employees, also known as cast members, the newspaper said. Autonomous vehicles could carry them through cast member-only parking lots.

If the pilot program is successful, the driverless shuttles would begin transporting park visitors sometime in 2018, the Times reports.

Disney is reportedly in talks with two manufacturers: Phoenix-based Local Motors and Paris-based Navya. Both companies design autonomous, electric-powered shuttles that can hold up to 15 people. In the case of Local Motors' Olli model, the exterior can be customized to fit the style of the city or area where it will be used. Essentially, Disney would be able to theme the shuttles for each theme park.

Shuttles can hold up to 15 people and travel at speeds of up to 25 mph or more. To navigate, the vehicles would come equipped with radars, lasers and cameras, all programmed to keep the shuttles in a designated zone.

Autonomous shuttles are nothing new. Several companies specializing in driverless shuttles began testing in major U.S. cities last year, including Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas.

After news broke of a gondola system being developed at Disney World, the company seems poised to transform its transportation system. That new aerial transportation system could connect the theme parks to nearby hotels.

The changes come as Disney prepares to open a Star Wars expansion at Hollywood Studios in 2019. Other road projects are also in the works to help accommodate the expected influx of traffic for the upcoming land.