Capital Metro, the City of Austin and RATP Dev USA are working together to test autonomous vehicle (AV) technology.
Capital Metro (Central Texas’ transportation agency), the City of Austin and RATP Dev USA are collaborating to initiate a pilot electric-powered, autonomous mini-bus service, initially deployed as a circulator in the downtown area.
The pilot project will be in two phases: technology testing and service run. The testing phase will evaluate the performance of autonomous bus vehicles from a few manufacturers.
Testing will begin as soon as late July and will take up to 60 days.
During the second phase, autonomous vehicle manufacturers will be able to submit proposals for Capital Metro to lease six vehicles to run in the pilot for 12 months. Capital Metro anticipates that the selected fleet will be in operation in late fall.
The electric-powered vehicles can carry up to 15 passengers. Operators will be on board while the vehicles are being evaluated and running in service. The project will evaluate overall customer service, safety and the public’s reception and adoption of autonomous vehicles.
America’s largest pilot
Randy Clarke, Capital Metro’s President/CEO, 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.
"This is an amazing opportunity to better connect our customers and community while also shaping the future of transportation.”
Jason JonMichael, Austin Transportation Assistant Director for Smart Mobility, said: “Austin Transportation is excited to partner with Capital Metro on this ground-breaking effort. We’re dedicated to making mobility safer, cleaner, more efficient and more equitable. This project has the potential to bring us closer to all of those goals and open up opportunities for future technological innovation.”