Look ma, no hands! RTD to launch a driverless shuttle on January 29.
Catching a ride on human-operated public transportation is so 2018. Here in the glorious year of 2019, we can catch an autonomous vehicle (AV) and cruise the streets of Denver, hands-free. Gone are the awkward looks you catch from the driver when they are looking in their rear-view mirror. No more avoiding the disapproving driver stare when you're fumbling for correct change.
Now, you can hop the 61AV and cruise the streets of the Denver metro area. At least a few of them.
RTD is launching its first-ever public trial of the 61AV shuttle on January 29 at 2 p.m. Its initial route will be limited to stops at the 61st and Pena Station and around the massive Panasonic building.
The driverless shuttle runs completely on electricity, can hold up to the 12 passengers, and has an automatic wheelchair ramp. Its cab is air conditioned for your comfort, and there are ever-important USB ports available, so you can keep your devices charged during the trip. No word on whether it speaks in a Knight Rider-esque voice, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
An interior view of the 61AV. Courtesy of RTD.
According to RTD, its driverless technology is quite safe while on the road with real traffic (though nothing has been said about how it reacts to Denver's rampant road rage and the flurry of middle fingers).
"These vehicles have been operated in over 22 countries for over 200,000 miles and serving over 320,000 passengers – all with no accidents," says RTD.
The project is a collaboration between several partners and will assess the reliability and availability of an AV shuttle in a transit system. It is also a possible first/last mile solution for the growing metro area, as well as a possible option to provide more connections between transit stations and businesses and residential areas.
If you want to check it out, you can ride the shuttle for free during the trial period. It will run every 15 minutes on the weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
What do you think? Will we be seeing more of these driverless shuttles around the city? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.