Ohio city tests self-driving shuttles

Published 7:05 am Tuesday, January 14, 2020

COLUMBUS (AP) — Self-driving shuttles will do a circuit through a residential neighborhood in Ohio’s capital city as part of a year-long pilot program starting in late January.

Three, 12-passenger, disabled-accessible electric shuttles will travel the 2.8-mile route in the Linden neighborhood of Columbus.

The shuttles, which are autonomous but monitored by on-board operators, will run between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m and connect riders to locations with social services like St. Stephen’s Community House which has a food pantry and health and job resources. Other stops include a recreation center and a transit center.

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The circuit will be timed so riders can connect to Central Ohio Transit Authority buses.

The route will be suspended for 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon as a precaution because of students walking to school, said Mandy Bishop, the program manager for Smart Columbus, the city’s mobility initiative. The buses can travel up to 25 mph, but will average 12-18 mph, she said.

A different self-driving shuttle pilot program that ended in September ran along the Scioto Mile taking passengers to attractions including Bicentennial Park, the Center of Science and Industry and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. That service attracted more than 16,000 riders.