Autonomous shuttles tranporting commuters over what many refer to as the last mile — the distance between public transit and the office — could in the near future be a transportation option in Denver, with officials testing the technology.
The six-person shuttle’s first route earlier this month connected passengers between a Denver train station and a nearby bus stop, according to the industry news outlet SmartCitiesDIVE.
Denver is among many municipalities testing autonomous shuttles; Las Vegas became the first to put a shuttle into operation in November. The testing is especially vital as SmartCitiesDIVE reports:
Most municipalities are going through months of testing to ensure that the vehicles’ cameras, radar and LiDAR can adequately maneuver them throughout cities and respond to hazards.
That’s wise considering the high-profile accident that occurred the day the Las Vegas shuttle began service. A human driver was at fault for backing into the autonomous shuttle, which stopped cold when it sensed a road hazard. A similar stopping situation happened during Denver’s shuttle test this week, when the vehicle immediately halted upon sensing a tumbleweed blowing across the road.
Over the summer, state lawmakers legalized autonomous vehicle travel on Colorado’s roads, as long as the rules of the road are followed. The Denver Post reports the state hopes to make the new travel option a “new normal” as early as next spring.
With expansion, autonomous shuttles could also help bridge the first mile — the distance between home and public transit, SmartCitiesDIVE notes.