Autonomous shuttle service
Public launch Aug. 26
Free. Wheelchair accessible
“Transportation can help dreams come true,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams. “Arlington wants to be in the middle of transportation and transportation innovation.”
The city of Arlington has partnered with Toulouse, France-based EasyMile to be the first municipal government in America to offer a fully-autonomous shuttle service. The EZ10 shuttle – which Arlington has dubbed milo to represent mil zero, the point where guests arrive at their destination – is part of a year-long transportation pilot program.
“We are at the beginning of a technology revolution that is going to make our world better,” Williams said. “[milo] utilizes some of the latest developments available in driverless vehicles. Is it the solution to transportation here? We have no idea, but we’re going to find out.”
Visitors to Arlington’s Entertainment District will be able to ride for free on the air-conditioned wheelchair-accessible self-driving shuttle, milo, which will operate approximately from one hour before to one hour after major events at Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium.
The public launch of the program will be Aug. 26, just in time for the Cowboys’ first home game. Two milo shuttles are being leased to the city of Arlington by EasyMile. At 12.8 feet long by 6.5 feet wide and 9 feet tall, each shuttle can hold up to 12 passengers with six seated and six standing, or up to 10 passengers and one wheelchair.
With the construction of additional projects aimed at attracting more tourists to the city, such as Texas Live! and the new Rangers stadium, Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president of business operations, said, “The timing of the implementation of milo could not be better. This is just another example of the partnership that exists between the city, CVB and their constituents.”
“It is partnerships like these that make projects like milo possible,” Williams added.
Though milo is fully-autonomous, during Arlington’s pilot program there will always be a certified operator, or ambassador, on board to answer questions about the technology and Arlington’s Entertainment District, or to, in an emergency situation, complete emergency stops or drive the shuttle manually via joystick.
Taking only trail routes, the shuttle will not be operating on city streets during the pilot and has a maximum speed of about 20 miles per hour. Accelerating, braking and steering by itself, milo utilizes the latest technology to get around, including:
— Odometry, which, when used in robotics, is used to estimate current position relative to a starting position.
— and IMU (inertial measurement unit), which is an electronic device used to measure and report force, rate and magnetic field for an object.
The shuttle’s routes and stops are pre-programmed, and milo is powered by a Lithium-ion battery with up to 8-10 hours of continuous use battery power per charge. With its wheelchair-accessible ramp, air conditioning and more, milo is sure to draw in lots of riders, especially on game days.
Inside and outside the shuttle bus are buttons to open/close the door and raise/lower the ramp, as well as three emergency-stop buttons. Though Arlington’s shuttles will have a certified “ambassador” on board at all times, milo also comes with a four-step decision-making safety chain to help it avoid obstacles and navigate its surroundings, including:
— emergency stop buttons
— certified industrial grade safety control units
— obstacle detection lasers
— and a braking system and failsafe parking break.
City of Arlington Principal Planner Anna Foss described the process milo goes through, saying, if milo detects a slow-coming object it will begin to slow or stop as needed, and if a fast-approaching object were to thrust itself in front of the shuttle it has the ability to make an abrupt stop.
A representative from EasyMile, Lauren Isaacs, director of business initiatives, added that EZ10 systems have driven over 100,000 miles worldwide and has never been in an accident.
In March, the Arlington City Council approved an estimated lease of about $273,000 for the shuttles with options to renew up to two years. Arlington will offer the shuttle service in collaboration with the Arlington CVB. The CVB has contracted First Transit to provide the shuttles’ operational services.