Arts & Culture

Driverless Shuttles Rolling into DFW Airport

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At the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, there are many ways for passengers to get around. With five terminals and 182 gates, getting from parking lots to terminals can be a hassle.

The airport shuttles can help passengers get where they’re trying to go.

“It’s an easier way of moving around and finding the places you want to go, like the terminals, or wherever you want to go,” Jose Berrocal, a passenger traveling through DFW, said.

But imagine a shuttle without a driver.

These driverless shuttles are a reality at DFW Airport.

“They are bringing this auto vehicle, and they call it EMMA,” Shah Rajendra, a DFW Airport employee, said.

EMMA stands for “easy mile mobility assistant,” and the vehicles can seat up to 12 people. DFW Airport debuted the vehicles in February, and they offer a service that didn’t exist before.

“This is for the internal parking lot only, not to go into the terminal over there,” Rajendra said.

EMMA picks up passengers inside the airport’s South Remote parking lot and takes them to a different shuttle pickup location, one that takes them to the terminals.

Even though they don’t have drivers, there is still a safety employee on board at all times.

Some customers think this lack of human drivers could help things run more efficiently.

“I think it would be better without a driver so it would be always on time,” Angel Coronado, a passenger at DFW Airport, said.

But a recent incident in Ohio involving a similar driverless shuttle left a passenger with minor injuries and forced similar shuttles across the country to be grounded temporarily.

Now, some customers are worrying the safety of driverless shuttles.

“Clearly that’s an accident and no one wanted that to happen but things like that could happen but it may not be safe sometimes, to an extent,” Berrocal said.

But airport employees are staying positive.

“It’s a gesture that’s very nice to help the customer and that will have an impact, I think,” Rajendra said.

Airport officials say they’re hoping to get EMMA back on the road soon.

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