Autonomous Vehicles Colorado (AvCo) announced the deployment of the fleet of low-speed, autonomous electric shuttles in multiple cities across Colorado.
Service in the first of three locations officially launched at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.
The autonomous shuttle buses will connect Mines students, faculty, staff, and the public with destinations in the city and around campus that currently lack mobility options.
“When people think of autonomous vehicles today, they see themselves riding alone - separated from other people and the overall transportation system. We want AvCo to change that perception by allowing people to experience how these technologies can maximize individual and societal benefits through integration with a shared public transit system,” said Tyler Svitak, executive director of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. “AvCo is a historic step forward for many important industries, including connected and autonomous vehicles, public transportation, and smart cities. What we learn here will help accelerate safer, cleaner, more accessible mobility for all.”
The first phase of the program includes a fleet of nine driverless, zero-emission EZ10 shuttles from technology-provider EasyMile. This will connect Colorado School of Mines’ central campus, athletics complex, student housing, and downtown Golden.
The low-speed shuttle service in Golden is named The Mines Rover. The service is designed to operate in normal traffic, and it is free of charge and available to the public.
Each shuttle can hold six seated passengers, and each shuttle will also have an onboard customer service ambassador, a trained Mines student, who will engage with riders and take over manual control of the shuttle if needed. The shuttle will operate along three fixed routes with designated shuttle stops and will arrive every 5-10 minutes along the routes.
“At Colorado School of Mines, our students and faculty are conducting research on the cutting edge of autonomous and intelligent systems. This partnership is a natural extension of our mission of advancing knowledge and innovations that will have a transformative impact on society,” said Paul C. Johnson, president of Colorado School of Mines. “We are excited and proud that Mines and our hometown of Golden will be the test bed for this new technology, which will lead to new developments in how it is improved and scaled up so that the environmental and human benefits can be extended well beyond Mines, Golden, and our state.”
The city of Golden has been a partner to the success of this project, helping to design and support implementation of the autonomous transit service in the city.
“The City of Golden is thrilled to be the first city in Colorado to offer zero-emission, autonomous microtransit,” said Golden mayor Laura Weinberg. “We thank our partners on this collaboration and the opportunity to advance our transportation sector community goals of 20% fossil fuel-free by 2030 and 100% fossil fuel-free by 2050.”
The shuttles navigate environments using sensors, cameras, and LiDAR that limit the risk of human error that contributes to 94% of vehicle-related fatalities from the equation. The shuttles are ADA accessible.
Phases two and three of AvCo plan to launch in Greenwood Village and Colorado Springs over the course of the next year to demonstrate the shuttles’ ability to operate in different environments, reduce carbon emissions associated with transit, and fill different mobility gaps across the state.
“We are proud to further support Colorado’s position as a hub for advancing technology and innovation,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper. “Automation and electrification are promising opportunities to improve transportation safety, cost, and environmental impact.”