The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) has received permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to test shared autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public roads within the 600-acre Bishop Ranch business park in San Ramon, California.
Authorized by California Assembly Bill 1592, CCTA is positioned to be the first agency in the USA to devise and fully implement a sustained, comprehensive AV and transit pilot program of this kind, where autonomous vehicles will share the road with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
CCTA is currently leading a pilot demonstration project at Bishop Ranch, operating electric, low-speed, multi-passenger AVs that are not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator or operator. In March 2017, CCTA, GoMentum Station, Bishop Ranch and EasyMile announced the second phase of testing for the EasyMile EZ10 shared autonomous vehicles at the business park.
Advancing to the third phase of testing, which includes operating on public roads within the business park, entails obtaining permission from both NHTSA and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). CCTA staff are in discussion with DMV to provide the information required and to secure permission for this next phase.
During the third phase of testing, members of the general public will not be able to ride the shared AVs on public streets. Predetermined testers and evaluators will be chosen from among the employees of Bishop Ranch companies.
“We are excited to be at the cutting edge of innovation in driverless technology with one of the first pilot demonstrations of shared autonomous vehicles on public roads,” said Randy Iwasaki, CCTA’s executive director. “This technology offers an innovative new approach to helping travelers get to transit stations, business districts, and other local amenities without the hassle of driving and parking. We expect that these vehicles will solve the so-called ‘first-and-last-mile’ challenge; a solution that could be replicated by many urban and suburban communities across the United States.”
EasyMile shuttles are designed as a zero-emission alternative, helping residents connect to transit centers and reducing congestion in their communities. Shared, electric, autonomous vehicles will also dramatically reduce the need for parking, total vehicle miles traveled, and overall greenhouse gas emissions.