Autonomous Vehicles Colorado (AvCo), a program to advance public transportation technologies, is poised to deploy what it claims will be the largest fleet of autonomous electric shuttles across multiple cities in Colorado.
The first of three locations launched this week at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. For the next year, the autonomous shuttles will connect students, teachers, staff and the general public to destinations around the city and the campus.
The first phase of the program will include nine driverless, zero-emission EZ10 shuttles from EasyMile to connect people to locations such as the Mines’ central campus, athletics campus, student housing and downtown Golden. The shuttles contain sensors, cameras and lidar to navigate environments and to reduce the risk of human error.
“When people think of autonomous vehicles today, they see themselves riding alone — separated from other people and the overall transportation system,” said Tyler Svitak, executive director of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, the center of the AvCo program. “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.”
The journeys on the autonomous shuttles will be free of charge and available to everyone in the public not just students and faculty. Each shuttle can hold six seated passengers, and each comes with a customer service ambassador, which will be a trained Mines student.
The shuttles will operate on three fixed routes with shuttle stops and will arrive every 5 to 10 minutes along the routes.
Phase two of the AvCo plan will launch in Greenwood Village and Colorado Springs, respectively, over the course of the next year. The goal of the project will be to demonstrate how the shuttles operate in different environments, can reduce carbon emissions and fill different mobility gaps across the state.