The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered French-based transport firm Transdev to stop using its EZ10 Generation II autonomous shuttle as a school bus. The 12-person shuttle was used to ferry children to and from Babcock Neighborhood School in Babcock Ranch, Florida.

Transdev’s use of the driverless shuttle to transport school children was unlawful and a violation of the company’s temporary importation authorization, according to NHTSA, and the directive is aligned with the Department’s guidance related to automated vehicles.

In March 2018, NHTSA granted Transdev permission to temporarily import the driverless shuttle for testing and demonstration purposes. Transdev requested permission to use the shuttle for a specific demonstration project, not as a school bus. Transdev failed to disclose or receive approval for this use.

School buses are subject to rigorous Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that take into account their unique purpose of transporting children, a vulnerable population.

“Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety,” said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator in a prepared statement.  “Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project.”