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Autonomous shuttles deployed in Columbus neighbourhood

Operating in the South Linden neighbourhood of Columbus, the Leap (Linden Empowers All People) shuttle will seek to close first-mile/last-mile transit gaps.

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The shuttles will operate daily, enhancing resident access to public transportation
The shuttles will operate daily, enhancing resident access to public transportation

Smart Columbus has launched what it claims is the first daily-operating public self-driving shuttle in a residential area in the US.

 

Operating in the South Linden neighbourhood of Columbus, the Leap (Linden Empowers All People) shuttle will seek to close first-mile/last-mile transit gaps.

 

Public transportation

 

The shuttles will operate daily, enhancing resident access to public transportation, affordable housing, healthy food, childcare, recreation and more.

 

“Bringing smart technology and mobility into our neighbourhoods is an important tool for sharing success and expanding opportunity,” said Andrew Ginther, mayor of Columbus. “The launch of the Linden Leap will help us guide future innovations in the community and beyond, using self-driving technology to help reduce barriers to community resources.”

 

Two all-electric vehicles, serviced by autonomous mobility provider EasyMile, will service the 2.9-mile route with shuttles arriving at each of four stops approximately every 12 minutes. The vehicles, which have a maximum speed of 25mph, are wheelchair accessible and can accommodate up to 12 passengers at a time.

 

A human operator, called a customer service ambassador, rides aboard each vehicle with access to driving controls at all times. Local mobility start-up EmpowerBus employs all shuttle operators.

“Bringing smart technology and mobility into our neighbourhoods is an important tool for sharing success and expanding opportunity.”

The self-driving shuttles operate using a suite of sensors that deliver a 360-degree view around the vehicle. The sensors and intelligent software help the vehicle understand where it is; in which direction to steer; and when to slow down, accelerate, or stop for something in its path, EasyMile claims.

 

Mapping allows the vehicle to know every inch of its route and navigate through various traffic conditions. Ambassadors provide riders with information about the route and technology, and can take control of the vehicle at any time. The shuttle is free to ride and open to the public.

 

"EasyMile has deployed our vehicles and technology around the world, but Columbus is the first location where our autonomous software is powering a fleet-based system in a residential neighbourhood,” added Sharad Agarwal, senior vice president of EasyMile in North America.

 

“This represents the next revolution in autonomous mobility, and we are thrilled Columbus can showcase this to communities everywhere."

 

The Linden Leap is a one-year pilot programme funded by the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge grant, will pick up and drop off passengers at the Linden Transit Center, Rosewind Resident Council, Douglas Community Recreation Centre and St Stephen’s Community House.

 

Together, the destinations provide residents with a variety of community services from affordable housing, to childcare, to healthcare. It also connects residents to the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s Cmax line, to better access jobs and services throughout Columbus.

 

To find out more about Smart Columbus’ achievements in smarter transportation, read SmartCitiesWorld’s interview with Mark Patton, vice president of Smart Columbus, in the City Lights section.

 

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