Cap Metro ponders running driverless shuttles in downtown Austin


Highlights

The transit agency will tell board Monday about a possible driverless route on East Fourth and Cesar Chavez.

The 12-month pilot, according to a presentation, could begin by late 2018.

It is unclear if the agency has begun any sort of bidding process to get a shuttle company on board.

Downtown Austin could see pod-like driverless shuttles by the end of the year under a pilot program Capital Metro is considering.

The agency, according to a presentation to be given to the Capital Metro board Monday afternoon, foresees having a fleet of six electric, autonomous shuttles running a route between the MetroRail station on East Fourth Street, Austin City Hall, the new downtown library on West Cesar Chavez Street and Republic Square on Guadalupe Street near West Fourth Street.

“Service to begin late fall 2018,” the PowerPoint presentation states about the 12-month pilot, adding that operating hours and a specific route are still to be determined. The presentation does not address if people would have to pay to ride the “last mile” shuttle.

The board will not be asked to take action on the proposal during today’s meeting, and it was unclear Monday morning what if any votes would come before the board in the coming months regarding the shuttles.

The presentation also contemplates training or testing of “operators w/o riders,” raising questions about just how driverless the small vehicles would be.

The Capital Metro presentation also includes a photograph of a shuttle from Navya, a Lyon, France-based company that has autonomous, electric shuttles or cabs operating in at least 14 cities around the world. That includes Las Vegas, where a pilot program has been running since November, and Ann Arbor, Mich.

A Navya spokesman said Monday he was not aware that the company had any sort of agreement to operate anywhere in Texas. Capital Metro officials could not immediately say what role, if any, Navya has with the shuttle pilot.

Austin has seen autonomous vehicles on its streets in recent years, primarily Google vehicles being tested in the Mueller development. However, those vehicles had drivers behind the wheel to take over in case of trouble, and they did not carry members of the general public. Beyond that, Mueller offers a much less challenging streetscape for an autonomous vehicle than does downtown Austin, with its congested menagerie of cars, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles and scooters.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Traffic report for Monday, Sept. 24, 2018

Interstate 35 (Hays County): Slow moving striping work crews in both directions between RM 150 and Robert S. Light Boulevard from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights Interstate 35 (Travis County): Alternating closures on the frontage roads in both directions between Slaughter Lane and Williamson Creek from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through...
Community news: Austin Energy hosts small business open house Tuesday

TRAVIS COUNTY SOUTH AUSTIN Small business open house Tuesday Austin Energy will host an open house for small business owners from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Austin Energy’s Town Lake Center, 721 Barton Springs Road. The free open house will allow business owners to exchange information, meet with staff and learn how to effectively partner with...
Cruz gets O’Rourke where he wants him — on a debate stage
Cruz gets O’Rourke where he wants him — on a debate stage

For the first time in his re-election campaign, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, right where he wanted him Friday night — on a debate stage confined behind a lectern and constricted by 90-second answers, 60-second responses and 30-second rebuttals. It forced O’Rourke to confront Cruz...
Heavy rains lead to flooding, rescues in Williamson, Travis counties
Heavy rains lead to flooding, rescues in Williamson, Travis counties

Authorities rescued dozens of people in Williamson and Travis counties early Saturday after thunderstorms hammered Central Texas, dropping nearly 10 inches of rain in some spots and causing flash floods, road closures and power outages. Approximately 90 people were forced to evacuate the Rio de Colores wedding venue in Liberty Hill as waters rose to...
TEXAS DIGEST: Funeral held for 4th victim of serial killings

LAREDO Funeral held for serial killings victim About 150 people gathered at a Texas church for the funeral of one of the four women who authorities say were killed by a Border Patrol agent they’ve described as a serial killer. Saturday’s funeral for 35-year-old Guiselda Alicia Cantu at a Catholic church in Laredo is the last of the memorial...
More Stories