On July 12th, Sustainable San Mateo County joined a group of local mobility enthusiasts for a ride in the Easymile EZ10 self-drive electric shuttle. This pilot program is the first of its kind in North America. The tour took place at Bishop Ranch in San Ramon, California and was organized by Menlo Spark and Friends of Caltrain.
Transit advocates are curious about autonomous (self-drive) electric shuttles as a solution to the first and last mile to public transportation for many people who do not live within walking distance to a station. This year, California enacted legislation to enable fully autonomous vehicles to travel on public roads. This pilot program is the first step toward making a case for the safety of self-drive vehicles with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The EasyMile EZ10 has a compact, chunky design that caters for 6 seated and 6 standing passengers. These shuttles are not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator or operator. The route was already programmed into the EZ10’s navigational software, although there was a technician on-board to ensure the ride went smoothly and answer questions. Our leisurely ride was initiated with the press of a button and on-board displays showed progress on the route, with brief stops at passenger pick-up spots. The next phase of the program will transport workers to various locations within the Bishop Ranch complex, with the eventual goal to connect to BART.
The Easymile EZ10 electric shuttle pilot program is a partnership between several private companies as well as the Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCTA):
- Bishop Ranch: an expansive business park that hosts over 30,000 employees.
- GoMentum Station: test facility for connected and autonomous vehicles, located at a former military site in Concord, CA.
- Stantec Inc.: an engineering consulting firm.
- First Transit: a bus service provider.
To see videos of the pilot program, visit the EasyMile website’s post EZ10’s debut at Bishop Ranch, California
For a deeper analysis of the project, read Autonomous shuttle pilot – what will it take to go mainstream? from Friends of Caltrain.