Driving The Future in Austin

Self-Driving Shuttle

The future was on display in Austin this week, as thousands of people gathered to share their latest innovations and ideas at SXSW. This year, Capital Metro got in on the action as well, with a demonstration of a self-driving, 100 percent electric-powered shuttle.

Along with RATP Dev (a public transit services company), they brought the 12-person shuttle to the University of Texas this week to introduce Austinites to the technology and to signal that they’re ready to embrace this technology in the city’s public transportation system.

Although Cap Metro has not actually purchased any of these types of self-driving vehicles yet, their hope is to do so sometime in the next few years. In the meantime, the idea is to research and test out new and innovative ways to move people around Austin.

Some ways that Cap Metro has said it could use self-driving vehicles include:

  • To solve the first and last mile problem of public transit – getting people from their front door to the nearest transit stop and vice versa
  • As part of Connections 2025, which calls for “Mobility Innovation Zones” in areas where demand for transit is low and large buses are not cost-effective. Autonomous shuttles could be a way to serve people in these communities.

“We’re very excited about it because these types of vehicles really fit into our vision for the future,” said Joe Iannello, vice president and chief information officer of Cap Metro.

AEN Editor-In-Chief Amy Stansbury had the chance to ride in the autonomous shuttle earlier today. You can watch videos from her experience below. And if you’d like to get in on the action yourself, you can go for a ride Friday, March 17th from 9am to 5pm in Parking Lot 37 beside Sid Richardson Hall (near the LBJ Library) on the University of Texas Campus. It’s free and open to the public!

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