Dallas-based engineer Aecom will work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to create “Bear Tracks”, a 2.4km autonomous shuttle route in the city of White Bear Lake in Ramsey County, eastern Minnesota.
The free service will cover four stops and connect up to 10 passengers at a time to community facilities and businesses using MnDOT’s Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV).
The electric vehicles are automated, but an on-board attendant will ensure the passengers arrive at their destinations safely.
The CAV has eight LiDAR (light-based radar) scanners, combined with a high-definition map of the route to determine the vehicle’s path while taking into account the safety and comfort of passengers.
Lindy Crawford, White Bear Lake’s city manager, said: “The Bear Tracks shuttle will help students in our community envision the jobs of the future, provide an opportunity to expand mobility for residents on the designated route who may otherwise have limited transportation options, and put White Bear Lake residents at the forefront of helping inform how this technology is integrated into Minnesota’s transportation system.”
Daryl Taavola, Aecom’s US West Transportation president, said: “We’re incredibly proud to partner with MnDOT and White Bear Lake to launch this groundbreaking project, which not only advances the operation of emerging automation technologies in variable weather conditions but uniquely integrates transit accessibility and equity as a main focus.
“As automated vehicles play a larger role in supporting improved mobility, we’re honoured to partner with our clients to help them navigate this evolution and achieve their goals. This pilot will serve as a tangible example that helps the public understand and interact with the benefits of these vehicles while providing the community with a free, safe and sustainable transportation option.”
The Bear Tracks’ route will run between August 2022 and July 2023. The project will influence future shuttle deployments across Minnesota.