Autonomous Electric Transit Vehicles Pilot

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Image of a driverless vehicle that will be used for this trial program.

Update on Mines Rover Service in 2022

From the very beginning, the Mines Rover has been an experiment in deploying 100 percent electric, autonomous vehicles in a campus environment and on Golden’s hilly streets as part of what was intended to be the world’s largest fleet of EasyMile’s EZ10 technology. The goal of this full-scale pilot program was to both provide a real-world test bed for this exciting new technology and meaningful transportation service, particularly for Colorado School of Mines students who live on the far side of U.S. 6 in Mines Park.

It’s the latter category where the Rover has fallen short – and following careful deliberation, the City of Golden and partners in this effort have made the decision not to resume Mines Rover service in 2022.

We want to thank our partners at the Colorado School of Mines, EasyMile and the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance for their hard work in bringing autonomous vehicle technology to Golden. And even though passenger service ended sooner than expected, we all agree that valuable lessons have been learned from the Mines Rover. The real-world data and experience gained will help move the needle on autonomous transportation in a measurable way.

We especially would like to thank community members for your interest and feedback related to the Mines Rover leading up to and during the pilot effort. It was incredibly valuable in helping to identify the limitations that both the technology and operation models will have to overcome to provide the kind of reliable transportation service that people will expect from these systems in the years to come. We look forward to a future with more opportunities for innovative, autonomous electric vehicle use in Golden and are proud of the role the Mines Rover pilot played in further understanding the technology.



The City of Golden has been selected for the opportunity for a one year pilot project to operate driverless transit vehicles within pre-defined routes on Golden city streets. This pilot project will be a partnership between the City of Golden, the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, and EasyMile. The pilot project will run from August 2021 until July 2022, and is a part of the greater AvCo project to deploy the nation’s first highly automated, connected, electric and shared public transit service in three different locations in Colorado. Visit avco.city to learn more about the project as a whole.

Background

The vehicles are called the EZ10 and are manufactured by a driverless technology company called EasyMile. The EZ10 has a top speed of 12 MPH and has been deployed in over 30 countries, including locally as a demonstration project near DIA and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The autonomous shuttle can seat six passengers and every vehicle has a safety operator known as a "Customer Service Ambassador" who is trained to answer questions about the vehicle and to take the control should any intervention be needed on the defined routes.

In late 2020, EasyMile, in conjunction with the Alliance, reached out to the City of Golden and the School of Mines to discuss a potential pilot project. These discussions involved the feasibility of operating different transit routes on and around the Mines campus to primarily serve the student population. After a series of meetings over the past several months, including a day spent walking the potential transit routes as a group to identify specific issues and challenges, the three organizations worked together to identify the three routes being operated today.

Why Golden?

The City of Golden was selected as an EZ10 deployment site for a number of reasons. First, it represents a unique and compelling downtown/university campus use case that can serve the transit needs of residents, students, and visitors alike. Importantly, the downtown and campus operating environments are highly conducive to reliable, safe operations of autonomous shuttles. In addition, the City of Golden and the Colorado School of Mines have demonstrated a high level of engagement and willingness to partner on this innovative effort. Finally, Golden is a member of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance that prioritizes innovation and smart cities and provides a stunning backdrop for exciting new technology.

Service Description

The service will operate on three different routes in and around the Mines campus. The Environment Route serves Mines Park, linking graduate student housing to the heart of campus via 19th Street. A second route, dubbed the Energy Route, links the Mines campus to West Downtown, traveling along Maple, 11th, Arapahoe, and 13th Streets before turning up Illinois Street to return to the center of campus. The Environment Route is the Parking Lot Route, linking the Mines stadium and parking lot to the center of campus via Maple Street. The intent is to deploy 9 shuttles on these three routes from August 2021 until July 2022. These routes were determined based on key origin points and destination points downtown and on campus, as well as optimal operating conditions for the autonomous shuttle vehicles. They will run roughly from 7:30 - 4:30.

The EZ10

The project will utilize EasyMile's EZ10, a driverless, electric, and accessible shuttle. The EZ10 is the most highly deployed automated shuttle in the world, and since 2015 EasyMile has deployed their vehicles over 300 times in over 30 countries. Over 500,000 people have traveled in the EZ10s. Up to 6 people can ride aboard the EZ10, including passengers with reduced mobility. With no steering wheel or pedals, the EZ10 can navigate itself autonomously at up to 12 MPH in a predetermined environment. All vehicles in Golden will have a Customer Service Ambassador aboard who will be a trained Mines student who will ensure the safety of the operations in addition to answering passengers' questions.

The EZ10 has been designed with both safety and comfort in mind. The vehicle's interior was developed by a team from the automotive industry. The anti-slip floor, mat plastics, chairs, seatbelts, handgrips, and fire extinguishers help to meet the safety and comfort needs of the riders. Each shuttle has a 29 inch informational screen that will provide information including audio and visual alerts to passengers about their journey, including progress, next station, and arrival times. EasyMile will work with the City of Golden and the School of Mines to develop audio announcements when approaching and leaving stations.

Update on Mines Rover Service in 2022

From the very beginning, the Mines Rover has been an experiment in deploying 100 percent electric, autonomous vehicles in a campus environment and on Golden’s hilly streets as part of what was intended to be the world’s largest fleet of EasyMile’s EZ10 technology. The goal of this full-scale pilot program was to both provide a real-world test bed for this exciting new technology and meaningful transportation service, particularly for Colorado School of Mines students who live on the far side of U.S. 6 in Mines Park.

It’s the latter category where the Rover has fallen short – and following careful deliberation, the City of Golden and partners in this effort have made the decision not to resume Mines Rover service in 2022.

We want to thank our partners at the Colorado School of Mines, EasyMile and the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance for their hard work in bringing autonomous vehicle technology to Golden. And even though passenger service ended sooner than expected, we all agree that valuable lessons have been learned from the Mines Rover. The real-world data and experience gained will help move the needle on autonomous transportation in a measurable way.

We especially would like to thank community members for your interest and feedback related to the Mines Rover leading up to and during the pilot effort. It was incredibly valuable in helping to identify the limitations that both the technology and operation models will have to overcome to provide the kind of reliable transportation service that people will expect from these systems in the years to come. We look forward to a future with more opportunities for innovative, autonomous electric vehicle use in Golden and are proud of the role the Mines Rover pilot played in further understanding the technology.



The City of Golden has been selected for the opportunity for a one year pilot project to operate driverless transit vehicles within pre-defined routes on Golden city streets. This pilot project will be a partnership between the City of Golden, the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, and EasyMile. The pilot project will run from August 2021 until July 2022, and is a part of the greater AvCo project to deploy the nation’s first highly automated, connected, electric and shared public transit service in three different locations in Colorado. Visit avco.city to learn more about the project as a whole.

Background

The vehicles are called the EZ10 and are manufactured by a driverless technology company called EasyMile. The EZ10 has a top speed of 12 MPH and has been deployed in over 30 countries, including locally as a demonstration project near DIA and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The autonomous shuttle can seat six passengers and every vehicle has a safety operator known as a "Customer Service Ambassador" who is trained to answer questions about the vehicle and to take the control should any intervention be needed on the defined routes.

In late 2020, EasyMile, in conjunction with the Alliance, reached out to the City of Golden and the School of Mines to discuss a potential pilot project. These discussions involved the feasibility of operating different transit routes on and around the Mines campus to primarily serve the student population. After a series of meetings over the past several months, including a day spent walking the potential transit routes as a group to identify specific issues and challenges, the three organizations worked together to identify the three routes being operated today.

Why Golden?

The City of Golden was selected as an EZ10 deployment site for a number of reasons. First, it represents a unique and compelling downtown/university campus use case that can serve the transit needs of residents, students, and visitors alike. Importantly, the downtown and campus operating environments are highly conducive to reliable, safe operations of autonomous shuttles. In addition, the City of Golden and the Colorado School of Mines have demonstrated a high level of engagement and willingness to partner on this innovative effort. Finally, Golden is a member of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance that prioritizes innovation and smart cities and provides a stunning backdrop for exciting new technology.

Service Description

The service will operate on three different routes in and around the Mines campus. The Environment Route serves Mines Park, linking graduate student housing to the heart of campus via 19th Street. A second route, dubbed the Energy Route, links the Mines campus to West Downtown, traveling along Maple, 11th, Arapahoe, and 13th Streets before turning up Illinois Street to return to the center of campus. The Environment Route is the Parking Lot Route, linking the Mines stadium and parking lot to the center of campus via Maple Street. The intent is to deploy 9 shuttles on these three routes from August 2021 until July 2022. These routes were determined based on key origin points and destination points downtown and on campus, as well as optimal operating conditions for the autonomous shuttle vehicles. They will run roughly from 7:30 - 4:30.

The EZ10

The project will utilize EasyMile's EZ10, a driverless, electric, and accessible shuttle. The EZ10 is the most highly deployed automated shuttle in the world, and since 2015 EasyMile has deployed their vehicles over 300 times in over 30 countries. Over 500,000 people have traveled in the EZ10s. Up to 6 people can ride aboard the EZ10, including passengers with reduced mobility. With no steering wheel or pedals, the EZ10 can navigate itself autonomously at up to 12 MPH in a predetermined environment. All vehicles in Golden will have a Customer Service Ambassador aboard who will be a trained Mines student who will ensure the safety of the operations in addition to answering passengers' questions.

The EZ10 has been designed with both safety and comfort in mind. The vehicle's interior was developed by a team from the automotive industry. The anti-slip floor, mat plastics, chairs, seatbelts, handgrips, and fire extinguishers help to meet the safety and comfort needs of the riders. Each shuttle has a 29 inch informational screen that will provide information including audio and visual alerts to passengers about their journey, including progress, next station, and arrival times. EasyMile will work with the City of Golden and the School of Mines to develop audio announcements when approaching and leaving stations.

Ask A Question

Have a question about the autonomous electric transit vehicle pilot project? Let us know here!

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  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    It's been advised that I revisit my question. I do not like these vehicles on 19th Street. This is not a "small backroad." It's a major entrance / exit to Golden. The arrival of EasyMile has noticeably and negatively impacted the traffic trying to get out of Golden. I am frequently late to work because of EasyMile. Having to accommodate for a driverless vehicle moving at a snails pace is a nuisance. I often pass cars on my bike now when I ride up to Lookout. Please get these things off of 19th Street.

    dan asked 11 months ago

    Thank you for your input. We understand that the driverless vehicles in this initial pilot project are slow, and may add a minute or two of commute time along that short stretch of 19th Street in particular, but their operation on city streets is key to acquiring the needed data for this study. In addition, this route takes students from the graduate student housing area at Mines Park across Highway 6 to the heart of the Mines campus, providing useful transit service. It should also be mentioned that these specific autonomous vehicles are able to operate legally on city streets, and are licensed by the State of Colorado and the federal government to do so. We will pass on your feedback to the operators of the service.

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    The rovers are fine for campus streets, but they cause traffic jams up and down 19th St since they are so slow (10 mph). I have to deal with the delay every day. There are often 10 or more cars stacked up behind the rover. Those cars idling probably contribute more to air pollution than the rover saves. Drivers become frustrated and take risks to pass the rover and escape the blockage. The rovers should not be allowed on city streets where they obstruct the normal flow of traffic.

    Steve K asked 11 months ago

    Thank you for your input, and we understand that the driverless vehicles in this initial pilot project are fairly slow, and may add a minute or two of commute time along that short stretch of 19th Street in particular, but their operation on city streets is key to acquiring the needed data for this study. This particular route takes students from the graduate student housing area at Mines Park across Highway 6 to the heart of the Mines campus, providing useful transit service. Additionally, it should be stated that these specific autonomous vehicles are able to operate legally on city streets, and are licensed by the State of Colorado and the federal government to do so. City staff will pass on your feedback to the operators of the service.

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    Any hope of using the shuttles to connect to light rail?

    simpson.b asked about 1 year ago

    The shuttles are part of a pilot program and are operating on routes adjacent to the Colorado School of Mines. There is the potential for future connectivity with existing transportation means, however that is beyond the scope of this initial trial period.

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    Can anyone ride? Do you need a ticket?

    Lojo asked 12 months ago

    Anyone can ride the shuttle and no tickets are needed to do so. 

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    Will the EZ10 be running tomorrow?

    Carol Carroll asked 12 months ago

    Thank you for your inquiry. The Mines Rover shuttles operate each weekday, but the downtown route will not be running on Friday, August 20th due to the Fine Arts Festival along 11th Street.

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    How often will the buses come?

    jdenison asked 12 months ago

    Thank you for your interest, and we hope you are able to take the opportunity to ride the new driverless shuttles. They are scheduled to arrive at the designated stops every 7-10 minutes during their weekday operational hours.

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    I saw one of the buses this week. When do they start? What is the operating schedule? Is there a charge to use it? Can I bring my dog on the bus?

    gep asked about 1 year ago

    Thanks for your questions! The pilot kicked off this week so you can use a shuttle now from about 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. -- see the route maps on the right side of the Guiding Golden page. There is no fee to use them during this pilot project phase. However, no dogs are allowed on the shuttles, with the possible exception of service dogs.

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    Why are they called "Mines Rover" instead of "Mine Cart"? I can't believe they missed such an opportunity!

    instanttim asked about 1 year ago

    Great suggestion, thanks! We’ll pass it on for future consideration.

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    Are these shuttles wheelchair accessible, ie is there a ramp to provide access? If not, why not? And what are the plans to adapt the shuttles for ADA compliance in the future?

    SuperAdam asked about 1 year ago

    The EZ10 Shuttle is ADA compliant and accessible by a wheelchair via an automated ramp. An onboard ambassador is also available to assist in boarding. The City has also created concrete pads at the shuttle stops to assist with access, and the shuttle can be configured with automatic audio and visual stop announcements as well. 

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    How much does this shuttle cost?

    DanGlez asked about 1 year ago

    The shuttle has no cost for riders to use, nor is there a direct cost to the City of Golden for the shuttle's operation.

Page last updated: 25 Jan 2022, 04:07 PM