Arlington to Roll Out Milo Autonomous Shuttle Pilot Program August 26

The City of Arlington will soon launch Milo, a free autonomous shuttle service that will operate on select off-street trails in the Entertainment District before and after major events at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Fans attending the Dallas Cowboys pre-season home game on Saturday, August 26, will be among the first to ride a Milo shuttle as part of the City’s innovative transportation pilot program. The City showcased the battery-powered Milo shuttles and the service routes during a media preview Friday, August 11 at Richard Greene Linear Park.

The City is leasing two of these self-driving, electric vehicles from EasyMile, a company based in France, as part of a one-year pilot program to explore autonomous transportation technology in a real-world setting. While the City of Las Vegas ran a two-week autonomous shuttle pilot program earlier this year, Arlington will become the first municipal government in the United States to offer ongoing autonomous shuttle service to the general public.

“The experts are saying every day there is something new being invented in transportation. It’s a great opportunity for us to do these pilot projects, for us to actually test them in our community and for our citizens to be able to look at them and see if they work here and what their opinion of it is,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said. “We want to see how this technology performs, where it is best utilized and how it can be harnessed to potentially serve the city’s transportation needs in the future.”

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Meet Milo

Starting August 26, the Milo shuttles will run approximately one hour before and one hour after major events at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park in Arlington. The shuttles are programmed to run along select off-street trails in Richard Greene Linear Park and Robert Cluck Linear Park between the two venues and will pick up and drop off passengers at designated stops.

On Friday, Arlington City Council members, Texas Rangers leadership and manager Jeff Banister, City of Arlington Transportation Advisory Committee members, city officials and local journalists took turns riding the bright red shuttle along the scenic path bordering Johnson Creek.

The shuttles, which are wheelchair accessible, can hold up to 12 passengers and will drive at speeds averaging 10 to 12 miles per hour. A one-way trip takes about 13 minutes to complete from pick up to drop off.

The trail takes passengers past several works of public art, including the Caleum Moor granite sculptures, as they travel between the designated stops.

“The timing of this Milo technology could not be better,” said Rob Matwick, executive vice president of business operations for the Texas Rangers. “To be able to give our fans the opportunity to experience this innovative technology and give them the convenience to deliver them close to the ballpark or AT&T Stadium is outstanding. We are all about customer service and making memories here at the ballpark.”

Signs along the route instruct walkers, joggers and others sharing the concrete path to keep their distance from the moving shuttles. But even if someone or something were to stray into a Milo’s path, the vehicles are outfitted with numerous safety features that help it avoid bumping into bikes,  pedestrians or obstacles on the trails.

“We’re very proud of the fact that after operating over 100,000 miles all over the world, in many different environments, these vehicles have never been in an accident,” said Lauren Isaac, EasyMile’s Director of Business Initiatives for North America.

Although the Milo shuttles will run autonomously, the vehicles will always have a certified operator on-board serving as a customer service ambassador.

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Exploring Transportation Technology

EasyMile congratulated Arlington leaders on Friday for launching the first true driverless operation in the United States and for making a bold investment in the city’s future.

“Being the first at anything takes leadership and an eye to the future. We are honored that the City of Arlington saw that in EasyMile technology,” Isaac said.

The autonomous shuttle service is one of several options explored over the past year by the Council-appointed Transportation Advisory Committee, which is expected to present recommendations on how to address Arlington’s future transportation needs to City Council on September 26.

“Milo is about innovation. That is exactly what we tasked our Transportation Advisory Committee to do: look for innovative way to solve our transportation needs,” Williams said. “We are looking forward to the recommendations that are going to be coming out from our citizens committee.”

The Milo shuttle pilot program is expected to run through mid-2018. Bill Verkest, Transportation Advisory Committee Chair, said part of the purpose of the pilot program is to familiarize the public with driverless vehicle technology.

“Autonomous vehicles are going to be a mindset for people. Is it something we really want to trust ourselves with?” Verkest said. “It’s kind of like an airplane. At one time we didn’t know if you could put a plane on automatic pilot and it would fly itself. Well, this is new technology and as technology improves, people accept it.”

Milo isn’t Arlington’s only transportation initiative. As part of its Smart Cities initiative, the Arlington Public Works and Transportation is participating in two pilot programs designed to make the traffic signal network more efficient and also to let drivers know through a smart phone app how fast they should be going to avoid red lights. The City is also requesting proposals from companies that could operate a demand response rideshare program. The goal is to be able to pilot a transportation service where users can schedule rides to key destinations throughout Arlington using a phone app. The one-year Rideshare Pilot Project is expected to start later this fall.

“Our City Council and Mayor see an opportunity for Arlington to lead the way in implementing creative transportation solutions. This will require experimenting with technology like automated vehicles and ride sharing programs to see what works and is the most cost-effective way to provide quality service to our residents and visitors,” said Jay Warren, Marketing Communications Manager.

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