By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Although it would be simple to draw a parallel between the new automated shuttles in Yellowstone which will debut next month to the Stephen King movie “Maximum Overdrive”, where demonic cars and trucks run over people for fun, the two situations are probably not similar.
While the movie and the national park both have automated vehicles, it is unlikely that the shuttles in Yellowstone will become possessed and start attacking people.
That would be a PR problem the National Park Service could do without.
Officials at Yellowstone National Park announced the first two automated shuttles arrived at the park on Monday and they don’t look ominous. One could say they look kind of goofy. Like a cross between a giant 1976 Pacer and an aquarium.
The looks of these “bubble shuttles” should calm those who are nervous about automated vehicles. The late artist Bob Ross might call these vehicles “happy”.
Besides, it won’t be like the Daytona 500 where shuttles are autonomously racing each other to drop patrons off. The automated vehicles are low-speed, electric, and will be traveling around pre-established routes.
The park service said there will be several weeks of testing onsite prior to the launch and all crashes must be immediately reported to law enforcement.
“A robust plan will also be used to train all park-wide first responders on operations that come up during the pilot,” said a spokesperson with the park service.
Teams will spend the next month training, mapping, and preparing for the launch on May 24.
The park service said a successful pilot would ensure that “safety comes first”.
That would likely mean that if the program — which ends on August 31 — drew even slight comparisons to the Stephen King movie, it would not be deemed successful.
In fact, none of the press materials even mention the movie — which is a smart PR move.
“A primary goal of this project is to understand how this technology operates in parks, so we will be collecting data throughout the pilot about ridership, speeds, stop times, attendant overrides, and much more,” the park service said.