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The first driverless shuttle is now a thing in Colorado

The Regional Transportation District Tuesday launched the state's first autonomous vehicle.

DENVER — A bus without a driver. That's now a reality for travelers in Denver with the launch Tuesday of the state's first on-road deployment of an autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle.

The EasyMile AV is 100 percent electric and will operate for the next four to six months on a four-stop route that brings travelers from the Regional Transportation District's (RTD) 61st & Peña commuter rail station to the Panasonic and EasyMile offices and to the 61st & Peña Park-n-Ride lot. 

“We’re excited to see how driverless technology will work in Denver and to embrace new, innovative and better mobility options to move more people and improve travel for residents and visitors alike,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. 

The shuttle's route, 61AV, will be free for riders. It will run Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and make a complete loop every 15 minutes. 

Credit: KUSA

RTD said in a release its main goal is to assess the viability of autonomous services in providing first and last mile connections to and from transit. 

"The 61AV [route] allows us to interface directly with an autonomous vehicle demonstration and assess how this technology can be applied in a transit setting to meet the future mobility needs of the people and communities we serve," said Dave Genova, RTD's president and general manager.

An ambassador will also be on-board the shuttle to answer questions and "ensure safety," RTD said. 

Transdev, a France-based private sector operator of North American transit, will operate the shuttle. 

The EasyMile shuttle will be programmed to make designated stops along predetermined routes (see map). It runs an average speed of 12-15 miles per hour and can carry up to 12 passengers. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the newly-formed Colorado Autonomous Vehicle Task Force for six months of operations approved the project. Data collected on usage and operability will be shared between project partners to improve future deployments and bring autonomous services into wider usage.

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