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Nation's largest fleet of autonomous vehicles launches in Colorado

The Mines Rover shuttles are free of charge and available to the public.

GOLDEN, Colo. — The nation’s largest fleet of low-speed, autonomous electric shuttles is being deployed in Colorado.

The first of three locations launched Tuesday at Colorado School of Mines with nine driverless, zero-emission EZ10 shuttles.

The autonomous shuttle buses will connect students, faculty, staff and the public with destinations in Golden and around campus that currently lack convenient mobility options, said Autonomous Vehicles Colorado (AvCo).

The shuttles will connect Colorado School of Mines’ central campus, athletics complex, student housing and downtown Golden. AvCo said the shuttles will safely navigate traffic using advanced sensors and technology.

Named The Mines Rover, the low-speed shuttle service is free of charge and available to the public.

Each shuttle will have an onboard customer service ambassador — a trained Mines student — who will engage with riders and take over manual control of the shuttle if necessary.

The shuttle will operate along three fixed routes with designated shuttle stops and will arrive every 5 to 10 minutes along the routes. The shuttles are ADA accessible and can each hold six seated passengers.

"The City of Golden is thrilled to be the first city in Colorado to offer zero-emission, autonomous microtransit," said Golden Mayor Laura Weinberg. "We thank our partners on this collaboration and the opportunity to advance our transportation sector community goals of 20% fossil fuel-free by 2030 and 100% fossil fuel-free by 2050."

Credit: Autonomous Vehicles Colorado (AvCo)

"When people think of autonomous vehicles today, they see themselves riding alone - separated from other people and the overall transportation system," said Tyler Svitak, Executive Director of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, the nonprofit at the center of the AvCo program.

"We want AvCo to change that perception by allowing people to experience how these technologies can maximize individual and societal benefits through integration with a shared public transit system."

AvCo said the shuttles are 100-percent electric, reducing the life cycle of climate-warming gases by 90 percent compared to similar, gasoline transit vehicles.

Credit: Autonomous Vehicles Colorado (AvCo)

AvCo will next launch shuttles in Greenwood Village and Colorado Springs over the course of the next year.

“We are proud to further support Colorado’s position as a hub for advancing technology and innovation,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO). “Automation and electrification are promising opportunities to improve transportation safety, cost, and environmental impact.”

“Fighting climate change and embracing renewable energy has been a priority for the Polis-Primavera administration since day one,” said Colorado Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera.

“Clean energy and electrification isn’t just the future, it’s our present, and it’s going to be essential in a stronger, faster economic recovery, as well as a more sustainable transportation system. It is great to see public and private partners come together to drive innovative initiatives like the Mines Rover.”

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