Self-Driving Shuttles to Share the Streets of Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids residents will have one more option for public transit this fall.
As part of Minnesota’s Autonomous Rural Transit Initiative (goMARTI), five self-driving shuttles will aim to increase not only accessibility for residents and visitors, but also mobility as the cars wind down the streets of Grand Rapids hands-free.
The autonomous vehicles, provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and its partners, will cruise down the paved streets this fall. These vehicles will be on Grand Rapids roads for an 18-month pilot program. One major reason for bringing these shuttles northbound is to decrease isolation and increase mobility for those with disabilities.
Passengers can access the shuttles by using the VIA app or through First Call 211. Three of the vehicles are also ADA compliant.
The shuttles themselves will have operators behind-the-wheel. The operators will be in the vehicle in case of emergencies or in case they need to manually control the vehicle.
The introduction of these shuttles is one more initiative toward making Minnesota roadways more accessible. Through the 18-month program, MnDOT and its partners will look to gain information on how these vehicles will run, rain, snow, or shine.
Other considerations toward implementing these shuttles in the area include understanding the economic impact of self-driving shuttles in a rural community, engaging and educating the local population about autonomous vehicles, and advancing this technology through more difficult circumstances, such as through winter months.
goMARTI will operate the free, on-demand service in Grand Rapids throughout an area exceeding 16 square miles. It will also include more than 70 pickup and drop-off spots.