Autonomous shuttle service launches in Minnesota

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Med City Mover, a pilot program with electric, driverless shuttles, recently launched in downtown Rochester, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MdDOT).

The service involves two low-speed, driverless, electric, multi-passenger shuttles. Attendants will accompany the shuttles to verify the safe operation of the vehicle and aid passengers as needed. The rides are free to the public.

The pilot project is a partnership between MnDOT, the city of Rochester, Destination Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, First Transit and EasyMile. The partners hope to advance the use of automated vehicle technology in winter weather conditions; enhance the transportation experience and increase mobility in a high-demand downtown urban environment; identify infrastructure gaps and solutions to safely operate automated vehicles on public roadways; and engage and educate the public by providing real world automated vehicle experience.

“Partnership projects like this are essential to better understand the benefits, challenges and risks of automated technology,” MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said. “Community engagement is also a priority — feedback from riders about their experiences on these vehicles will help us continue to improve our transportation system and create a future that prioritizes travel options, reliability and sustainability.”

The shuttles operate at a top speed of 15-miles per hour.

The pilot program will run through August 2022.