The possible future of road travel will be demonstrated in Minneapolis this weekend, when the public can try out an autonomous shuttle bus.
You might recall the self-driving EasyMile EZ10 made an appearance on Nicollet Mall during Super Bowl week, transporting visitors at a snail's pace through the festivities.
Well it's back in town this weekend, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation running the shuttle for two blocks along the Midtown Greenway bike trail, which the public can hop on between 10 a.m.– 4p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Autonomous car technology continues to be developed for worldwide roads and experts believe they will increasingly replace human-controlled vehicles.
But the tech's reputation took a hit earlier this year when an autonomous Uber cab being tested in Arizona hit and killed a pedestrian.
No autonomous cars are being used on Minnesota roads right now, and you won't have to worry about any public risk on the Midtown Greenway this weekend – the shuttle will be going slow.
While the shuttle is capable of speeds of 45mph, it will be traveling along the greenway between Hennepin and Fremont Avenues at no more than 12mph, MnDOT told Bring Me The News.
Autonomous vehicle testing continues
MnDOT has selected EasyMile – a French company – to be its partner as it figures out how autonomous vehicles can form part of broader transportation strategies in the future.
The EZ10 – which carries 6-12 people – has already undergone cold weather tests at MnDOT's test facility this past winter,
The demo in Minneapolis is in conjunction with Hennepin County, which despite saying it has no plans to implement any autonomous transportation right now, is encouraged by the possibilities in the future.
The continue testing of the EZ10 will be used to inform future policies and decisions regarding the rollout of autonomous transportation in the state.
"As our region continues to grow, making sure there are options for people to get where they need to go safely and efficiently is critical,” said Hennepin County District 3 Commissioner Marion Greene in a press release.
"People want transportation choices. If we’re smart about how we develop and implement autonomous vehicle technology, it could be a valuable tool in building and maintaining smart, sustainable and healthy communities for the future."
District 4 Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said autonomous shuttles could be of particular to use for people with mobility issues or no access to a car.
"We’re thinking about how this technology could help connect more people to major transitways, and how it might complement other types of transportation like walking, biking and driving," he said.