Arlington approves driverless shuttle

EasyMile EZ10

Texas Rangers fans and those attending other events in Arlington’s stadium area will be able to catch a ride from the parking lots on a shuttle that offers a glimpse of the future of transportation.

The Arlington City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement for use of two driverless shuttles in the entertainment district beginning as early as June. The 12-passenger shuttles will become a regular sight as Arlington tests driverless technology for at least six months.

“The city seeks to position itself at the forefront of the connected and autonomous vehicle technology movements, Community Development and Planning Director John Dugan said in a statement. “The pilot project will allow us to see how this driverless vehicle system really works and to look at the overall picture of how these vehicles could enhance the city’s transportation options.

The EZ10 shuttles will be leased from EasyMile of Toulouse, France. The high-tech startup provides software for driverless vehicles and smart mobility solutions. EasyMile shuttles area already operating regularly in several countries around the world an in Concord, Ca.

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An EZ10 stopped at the Arlington Convention Center last month as part of a cross-country road trip to showcase its technology and safety features. Arlington city officials and residents got to take a spin and observe its capabilities.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams has touted driverless vehicles as a more cost-effective mass transit option for future than light-rail. With limited mass transit options, Williams said driverless vehicles could be beneficial solution for Arlington when the technology advances.

The low-speed shuttles can travel up 20 mph. The vehicles will be preprogrammed to follow routes within the entertainment district. For the test period, the shuttles will operate off-road on trails and other pathways. An operator will be onboard the vehicles all times to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

“The Arlington City Council is really interested in putting new technologies to work,” Dugan said. “People shouldn’t be afraid to engage with this technology and try the shuttles out.”

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The council approved an estimated lease of about $273,000 for the shuttles with options to renew up to two years.