Austin Plans Test of Driverless Electric Shuttles

Austin is considering a pilot program to run “pod-like” autonomous shuttles through downtown, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Testing of these driverless electric vehicles could start in a month, a press release from Capital Metro, the city’s transit agency, said.

“Capital Metro wants to lead the charge — to be among the first transit agencies in the United States to showcase this technology to our ‘smart’ city. I believe this will be the largest public AV bus pilot in the country.” said Randy Clarke, Capital Metro’s President/CEO, in a statement.


The first phase of testing will “evaluate the performance of different autonomous bus vehicles from a few manufacturers,” the release said. Capital Metro will then select one manufacturer to lease six vehicles for an in-service pilot, in which autonomous electric vehicles — supported by a human operator — will pick up and drop off people for 12 months. Riders won’t pay any fees during the pilot; RATP Dev, a France-based global transportation provider, is picking up the tab.


Capital Metro, RATP Dev and the University of Texas-Austin trialed an autonomous shuttle, the EZ10, made by French manufacturer EasyMile, during SXSW 2017. At the time, Cap Metro told the Austin American-Statesman that it had no plans to purchase any of the vehicles.


The EZ10 has been trialed at small scales in other cities around the U.S. as well, including an office park outside of San Francisco and a stretch of road in Denver. Minneapolis held a short pilot for the shuttles on the city’s Midtown Greenway bike trail earlier this year. In a news release at the time, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said that these vehicles have the potential to reduce crashes by minimizing human factors during driving. The shuttles typically travel no faster than 12mph (but can reach up to 25mph), according to a press release from Hennepin County, which partnered with MnDOT on the trial.

11. Juli 2018

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