The state's first autonomous vehicle shuttle can now connect RTD passengers from the 61st and Peña commuter rail station to the Panasonic and EasyMile offices and to the 61st and Peña Park-n-Ride lot via four stops.
The EasyMile 100 percent electric, autonomous shuttle made its debut Jan. 29 and will continue operating for four to six months.
Regional Transportation District's General Manager and CEO Dave Genova and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock joined representatives from EasyMile, Panasonic, Transdev, and L.C. Fulenwider Inc. for a ribbon cutting and ride aboard the self-driving unit.
“We're excited to see how driverless technology will work in Denver and to embrace new, innovative and better mobility options to move more people and improve travel for residents and visitors alike,” Hancock said in a news release.
Transdev will operate the EasyMile autonomous shuttle for the RTD in a new route called 61AV, serving people who park and live near the 61st and Peña commuter rail station. The project's main goal is to assess the viability of autonomous services in providing first and last mile connections to and from transit.
“RTD is pleased to participate in this groundbreaking partnership to explore how innovations in mobility are creating new and expanded opportunities for public transportation,” Genova said in the release. “The 61AV partnership allows us to interface directly with an autonomous vehicle demonstration and assess how this technology can be applied in a transit setting to meet the future mobility needs of the people and communities we serve.”
The shuttle will run a predetermined route Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., making a complete loop every 15 minutes. Although it will not have a driver, an ambassador will be on the shuttle to help answer questions and ensure safety for the passengers and operations. Transdev will provide the ambassador for the RTD service.
Partners in this AV demonstration project believe autonomous shuttle services will transform local communities and become an integral part of how communities are designed in the future.
The EasyMile shuttle will be programmed to make designated stops along predetermined routes. It runs an average speed of 12-15 mph and can carry up to 12 passengers.
The autonomous vehicle demonstration project is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the newly-formed Colorado Autonomous Vehicle Task Force for six months of operations. Data collected on usage and operability will be shared between project partners to improve future deployments and bring autonomous services into wider usage.
EasyMile says its shuttle and operating system have been tested and verified over 200,000 miles in 22 counties, and have transported more than 320,000 people with no accidents or injuries. The shuttles have air conditioning, automatic wheelchair ramps, passenger information systems, electric batteries and onboard USB chargers. Passenger feedback on all of these deployments has been extremely positive.
More information about the Route 61AV project is at www.rtd-denver.com/61AV.shtml.
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