Optimus Ride is launching a free autonomous shuttle service for those who work in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. While that may sound limited to a relatively small footprint, consider that more than 10,000 toil across the 300 acres. The test is small: Six self-driving vehicles, each with two safety drivers, will shuttle people between the ferry and gate — a total of one mile. The vehicles move at a snail’s pace of 15 miles per hour.
Voyager, another autonomous vehicle company, is testing its offerings in a different limited setting: The Villages, the world’s largest retirement community, based in Central Florida.
Both tests show that disruptive technology might need to crawl before it can run. But the limited tests will no doubt provide a ton of data — and might just help overcome some of the safety considerations from regulators. Disruptors in any field can learn from the idea of testing in tightly controlled environments.