Driverless Shuttle Pilot Program to Roll Out in Arlington’s Entertainment District

Not looking forward to that long trek from the parking lot to the ballpark this summer? As part of an innovative transportation pilot program, visitors to Arlington’s Entertainment District may soon be able to catch a free ride on a driverless shuttle to help make getting from their vehicles to the stadium venues more convenient.

On Tuesday, the Arlington City Council approved a one-year lease agreement with EasyMile of Toulouse, France, for the use of two low-speed, autonomous shuttles. As early as June, the City will begin offering free shuttle rides on pre-programmed routes along select Entertainment District off-street trails during Stadium and Ballpark events.

This pilot program will allow Arlington to test the application of autonomous shuttles in a real-world setting.

“The City seeks to position itself at the forefront of the connected and autonomous vehicle technology movement,” Community Development and Planning Director John Dugan said. “The pilot project will allow us to see how this driverless vehicle system really works and to look at the overall picture of how these vehicles could enhance the City’s transportation options.”

Although the EZ10 shuttles will run autonomously, they will always have an operator on-board. The vehicles can hold up to 12 passengers and will have a maximum speed of about 20 miles per hour as they travel on select pathways, not city streets, during the pilot program.

In February, the community and media were invited to ride in a battery-powered, driverless shuttle during a demonstration of the EasyMile technology at the Arlington Convention Center. Arlington City Council members were among some of the first riders.

“The Arlington City Council is really interested in putting new technologies to work,” Dugan said. “People shouldn’t be afraid to engage with this technology and try the shuttles out.”

Driverless vehicles are one of the many options being explored by the Council-appointed Transportation Advisory Committee, which is expected to present recommendations on how to address Arlington’s transportation needs to City Council later this year.

“The Committee is working on a large-scale transportation plan, looking out over the next 10 to 20 years. Autonomous vehicles could play a role in their final recommendation,” Dugan said. “After a year or so, we will be in a much better position to decide if this technology can help us meet our future transportation needs.”

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