Autonomous Electric Transit Vehicles Pilot

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

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.

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

    simpson.b asked 2 months 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 2 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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.

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    This seems like a cool test, my questions are: What is the benefit of self-driven vehicles if an attendant is still required? What is the expected traffic on the lid if these vehicles are slow, any provisions for emergency vehicles to pass them on a sigle lane road? Why the low occupancy? Are there higher occupancy vehicles that cod be tested? Again, seems like a very exciting and really cool initiative

    B.R. asked about 2 months ago

    We're glad you're excited about this initiative, and thank you for your questions!

    The onboard customer service ambassador is there for many reasons, including engaging, educating and answering rider questions to ensure people are comfortable. Since there are no driverless transit services today, maximizing rider comfort and perception is very important before completely removing the operator. Additionally, there are still significant safety benefits, as the autonomous driving system is still operating the shuttle the vast majority of the time. This project is is a necessary step toward removal of the safety operator and represents a major advancement for the transportation industry.

    Emergency vehicles can pass the shuttles safely, and emergency responders in Golden have been through training to understand how to interact with the shuttles.

    The federal government is requiring all passengers in the vehicle to wear safety belts so the capacity is limited to 6 people; however, the shuttle has the capacity for more people standing.

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    Who is liable should the vehicle injure or kill someone or damage property?

    wtowber asked about 2 months ago

    EasyMile, as the owner of the vehicles and the developer of the technology, has insurance coverage and is responsible for any incidents that occur when the vehicle is operating autonomously.  If another vehicle drives into the shuttle, however, that vehicle (and its driver) would be responsible.  EasyMile's vehicles have operated over 450,000 miles in over 30 countries and have never had an accident.

Page last updated: 13 August 2021, 12:04