The first on-road deployment of an autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle in both Denver and the State of Colorado was undertaken by Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). The EasyMile 100% electric, autonomous shuttle made its debut and will continue operating for the next six months.
The self-driving shuttle will connect 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. Mayor Michael B. Hancock joined representatives from the Regional Transportation District (RTD), EasyMile, Panasonic, Transdev, and L.C. Fulenwider, Inc. for a ribbon cutting and ride aboard the unit.
Transdev will operate the EasyMile autonomous shuttle for the Denver RTD in a new route called 61AV, serving people who park and live near the 61st and Peña commuter rail station free of charge. The project’s main goal is to assess the viability of autonomous services in providing first and last mile connections to and from transit.
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 at all times to help answer questions and ensure safety for the passengers and operations. Transdev, will also 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 miles per hour and can carry up to 12 passengers. This 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.
“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,” said Mayor Hancock.
Data collected on usage and operability will be shared between project partners to improve future deployments and bring autonomous services into wider usage.