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It will operate for nine months on the San Francisco island and will help the authorities better understand how a shuttle service could meet people’s needs.

San Francisco’s Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency (Timma) and the Treasure Island Development Authority (Tida) have launched the Loop autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle into public service.

The pilot will operate for nine months on the artifical island in San Francisco Bay and is designed to help Timma better understand how a shuttle service could meet the needs of people travelling around the neighbourhood as well as provide the community with opportunities to learn about driverless technology.

Electric autonomous shuttles

The Loop is one of California’s first demonstrations of AV shuttles operating entirely on public roads. It will provide free rides using fully electric autonomous shuttles with an attendant on-board at all times. The shuttle will pick up passengers along a fixed route that features seven stops around the core of Treasure Island and can accommodate wheelchair users.

The Loop service will operate seven days a week from 9am to 6pm, connecting Treasure Island neighbourhoods to community centres and commercial venues. The route complements a portion of Muni 25-line service on the northern part of the island, with two autonomous vehicles running approximately every 20 minutes.

The project has been funded by grants from the US Department of Transportation USDoT and Metropolitan Transportation Commission and San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

“We are delighted to launch the new autonomous vehicle shuttle to serve Treasure Island,” said Treasure Island mobility management agency chair and District 6 supervisor, Matt Dorsey. “This is a community with unique transportation needs and challenges, and this innovative pilot will give us insight into how autonomous vehicles can enhance neighbourhood access and promote community-wide learning.”

The AV shuttles are provided and operated by Beep, an autonomous vehicle firm that was selected by Timma. Following approvals from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, California Department of Motor Vehicles and California Public Utilities Commission, Beep staff tested the vehicles for several weeks on Treasure Island, evaluating the shuttles’ software, lidar, and communications capabilities.

Beep also led training for the attendants who will be on board the shuttles. Attendants can take control of the shuttle if needed, answer questions, and assist passengers. The operations and service of the vehicles will be continuously monitored through the Beep Command Centre.

During testing, Timma staff arranged meetings with city agencies and key community groups to coordinate operational protocols and obtain feedback. These included workshops with first responders and staff from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to review safety protocols and accessibility features, and to ensure coordination with Muni’s 25 Treasure Island bus line.

As part of the pilot, Timma is collecting rider feedback through an ongoing survey.

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Quelle/Source: Smart Cities World, 18.08.2023

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