Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology is rapidly developing around the world. Minnesota offers several unique climate and regulatory challenges that are different from others currently testing these technologies. Deploying an AV pilot project in Minnesota will better position the State to influence national policy and prepare Minnesota transportation owners and stakeholders for the future.
Why are we doing this?
- Snow & ice: Prepare autonomous vehicle industry for snow & ice conditions
- Operations: Identify challenges and strategies for safe operation of third party autonomous vehicles on MnDOT’s transportation system
- Mobility: Prepare for improved mobility services through autonomous vehicles
- Infrastructure: Identify the infrastructure that is needed to ensure safe operation of autonomous vehicles
- Influence: Increase Minnesota’s visibility and influence on advancing autonomous & connected vehicles
- Partnership: Enhance partnerships between government and the autonomous vehicle industry
What is the Autonomous Shuttle?
MnDOT has selected EasyMile as the selected vendor. The vehicle is a driverless, electric shuttle that can transport up to 12 people (6 seated, 6 standing). The vehicle has no steering wheel, and operates on pre-mapped routes.
This vehicle has transported over 160,000 people and logged more than 60,000 miles around the world. This will be the first use of this vehicle in Minnesota.
How Long Will the Vehicle be in Minnesota?
The vehicle arrived in late October. Machine calilbration and set-up will take place in November, with testing and demonstrations lasting until at least early March, 2018.
Where Will the Shuttle Operate?
The vehicle will operate at several locations around the state.
Phase 1 (November 2017 through February 2018): Before operating this vehicle with a public purpose, the vehicle will undergo a series of warm weather and winter weather testing at MnDOT’s MnROAD facility near Monticello. The vehicle will operate on the 2.5 mile closed loop facility. Testing will include snow, ice and salt conditions that will simulate Minnesota driving conditions.
Phase 2: The shuttle will operate in downtown Minneapolis around Superbowl LII events (see Can the Public Ride the Shuttle? Section below).
Phase 3 (Spring / Summer 2018): The shuttle may operate at additional sites around the state. MnDOT and the vendor will work with other units of government and private businesses to select sites. Additional sites may require special federal approval.
Can the Public Ride the Shuttle?
The shuttle will be operating in downtown Minneapolis during Superbowl LII events in January and February. The public can ride the shuttle by signing up via MnDOT’s website (walk-ups will be available if space is available). The shuttle will operate on Nicollet Mall between 3rd Street and 4th Street, on the dates and times listed below (subject to weather conditions).
As part of the demonstration, 3M will provide a custom wrap for the vehicle. The wrap will feature a player from each team (subject to NFL approval).
Dates and Times of Operation
- Friday, January 26, 2018: 4:00 to 10:00 pm
- Saturday, January 27, 2018: Noon to 8:00 pm
- Sunday, January 28, 2018: Noon to 8:00 pm
- Thursday, February 1, 2018: 4:00 to 10:00 pm
- Friday, February 2, 2018: Noon to 8:00 pm
- Saturday, February 3, 2018: Noon to 8:00 pm
Jay Hietpas, PE
Learn more about the Autonomous Shuttle Bus Pilot Project.