GREENSBORO – The N.C. Department of Transportation is supporting a new electric, autonomous shuttle pilot that launched Monday at N.C. A&T State University, the head of the state agency announced.
NCDOT’s Research and Development Unit provided $463,921.00 in state funding to a team of researchers at N.C. A&T State University. Part of the funding supported the development of the autonomous shuttles and an innovative rural test track. Another portion of the funds will cover the autonomous shuttle pilot on a route that connects the university to downtown Greensboro.
“The future of transportation includes shared mobility options that are as convenient, reliable, affordable, clean and safe as driving and allow every person equal access to opportunities and services,” said Eric Boyette, secretary of Transportation. “This project and partnerships like it demonstrate NCDOT’s commitment to this goal.”
For about a month, the university will operate three Automated Driving System-equipped Polaris GEM E6 shuttles. The vehicles will take people on a nearly 2-mile loop from the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex on campus to the Miriam P. Brenner Children’s Museum in downtown Greensboro. The shuttle will operate from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. weekdays. Rides are free.
The pilot will enable the university and NCDOT to learn more about how to operate autonomous shuttles safely and efficiently in a real-world setting, including how the vehicles can be implemented as a transit fleet and as a microtransit option. Microtransit options offer customers access to a public transportation option that is flexible and responsive to real-time needs, the convenience of booking and paying online, and improved access to essential services such as school and medical appointments. Microtransit service is targeted to help people who live in rural and underserved communities without reliable transportation.
NCDOT’s Integrated Mobility Division will provide technical support and oversight for the pilot. Since 2020, division staff and various stakeholders have been testing autonomous shuttles in the Connected Autonomous Shuttle Supporting Innovation program, or CASSI. NCDOT’s CASSI program and partnership with NC A&T is a part of a larger effort to demonstrate the capability of shared autonomous vehicles to prepare for the future of mobility and enhance public transportation services. NCDOT is evaluating how autonomous vehicles can best be used by riders with different needs and in different environments.
To learn more about the Integrated Mobility Division, visit NCDOT.gov and follow Integrated Mobility on Twitter @NCDOT_IMD.