Optimus Ride launches New York’s first commercial AV program


Boston-based self-driving technology company Optimus Ride has launched of New York State’s first autonomous vehicle (AV) program, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY), a 300-acre industrial park with more than 400 manufacturing businesses and 10,000 employees onsite.

Six of Optimus Ride’s autonomous shuttles will transport passengers between the NYC Ferry stop at Dock 72 and the Yards’ Cumberland Gate at Flushing Avenue, a vital connection point in a truly multi-modal commute for thousands of passengers and a first-of-its-kind commercial autonomous driving system. The fleet of AVs will transport an expected 500 passengers per day and more than 16,000 passengers per month. Initially, there will be a safety driver and software operator in the vehicle while in operation. The system will run on a continuous loop between 7:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. on weekdays between the dock and the Cumberland Gate. On weekends the system will run between the dock and Building 77 during those same time periods.

Having deployed its technology in several Boston-area locations and successfully completed over 20,000 trips since the company’s launch in 2015, Optimus Ride’s system aims to provide a safe, efficient means of mobility in areas where there is a lack of options, while helping to solve the issue of first-mile/last-mile public transport. The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) spin-off also has agreements to deploy in three other states in the USA: at Brookfield’s Halley Rise in Reston, Virginia.; Paradise Valley Estates in Fairfield, California; and the Raymond Flynn Marine Industrial Park and Seaport District in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Optimus Ride launch comes as the Yard undergoes a US$1bn expansion, which will increase the Yard’s job total to 20,000 from its current 10,000 by the end of 2021. The BNY Development Corporation recently announced a US$2.5bn master plan to create 10,000 additional jobs housed in vertical manufacturing buildings, which would bring the total number of jobs at the Yard to 30,000 in the coming decades. The plan also envisions a site that is more integrated within the local community, and improved wayfinding, lighting, and streetscapes to make the Yard more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.

“Launching our self-driving vehicle system in New York at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is yet another validation that not only is our system a safe, efficient means of transportation, but also that autonomous vehicles can solve real-world problems in structured environments; today,” said Dr Ryan Chin, CEO and co-founder of Optimus Ride. “In addition, our system will provide access to and experience with autonomy for thousands of people, helping to increase acceptance and confidence of this new technology, which helps move the overall industry forward. We’re thrilled to work with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation to make history in the city and the state.”

David Ehrenberg, president and CEO of the BNYDC, added: “Our mission is to serve as a hub of urban innovation and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the experiences of our tenants and visitors. We are excited to bring the future of transportation to New York with Optimus Ride, and provide the 10,000 employees across the Yard and the Brooklyn community with greater access to convenient mobility.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.