Lincoln Autonomous Shuttle Project

This project is about how new transportation technologies can be integrated into an existing public transit system. The City of Lincoln successfully tested a demand-responsive autonomous microtransit vehicle that operated in the University of Nebraska's Innovation Campus. Use of autonomous microtransit vehicles in public sector transportation systems will play a critical role in ensuring safe, efficient, affordable and equitable access to many people across the world well into the future.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The Autonomous Shuttle Project is about the future of mobility, and how new transportation technologies can be integrated into an existing public transit system. In June and July, 2018, the City of Lincoln, Nebraska successfully tested a demand-responsive autonomous microtransit vehicle that operated in the University of Nebraska's Innovation Campus. As a result of that test project, the City will embark on one of the largest deployments of autonomous microtransit vehicles into a mixed traffic environment anywhere in the United States. The goal for year one is to develop the required infrastructure needed for deployment along a fixed-route in downtown Lincoln, and to operationally deploy five vehicles. Three more shuttles will be added to the fleet in year two and the route will expand to cover a larger footprint. By year three, ten shuttles will fully cover the downtown area and even expand south into an existing neighborhood.

The autonomous shuttle combines the benefits of public transit with the convenience of an on-demand operation. Commercially viable models are offered by several manufacturers with similar operational capabilities and passenger capacities. Vehicles are electric and have the computational abilities to observe and react to complex environments using a sensors that include radar, lidar, ultrasonic sensors, global navigation satellite systems, and optical cameras. Vehicles communicate using a combination of dedicated radio, cellular and short range communications. They have a seating capacity from eight to fifteen individuals with additional room to accommodate standing as well as accessibility ramps to accommodate wheelchairs. Maximum speed for the vehicles is 35 miles per hour.

On-board vehicle software allows the vehicle to interpret data streaming from its sensors matched against 3-dimensional maps of its environment. The software can determine what objects are permanent and what objects can potentially impact the vehicle's operation, such as pedestrians and other vehicles. The user-side software is the interface for a passenger to request rides, make payments, and monitor pickup times. This can be optimized for a downloadable smartphone app or be used through an interactive, stationary kiosk. The intent is to provide an easy and seamless user experience.

Public transit plays an important role in our society. As the City continues to grow, the problems associated with the overwhelming use of privately owned vehicles will become more and more acute. This is the time to explore new options for mobility and Lincoln has been at the leading edge of developing a concept for operational deployment of autonomous vehicle technology. Use of autonomous microtransit vehicles in public sector transportation systems will play a critical role in ensuring safe, efficient, affordable and equitable access to many people across the world well into the future. This is an exciting time, and Lincoln intends to be at the forefront of these emerging technologies for the good of its people.

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