COLUMBUS, OH – Smart Columbus and DriveOhio today unveiled Smart Circuit – Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle – by offering free rides and a glimpse into the future of transportation. The low-speed vehicles will serve destinations around Columbus’ Scioto Mile from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, starting Monday, December 10.
“Smart Circuit gives us an opportunity to learn more about self-driving technology in real time as we work to improve our city’s transportation ecosystem,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Many people in our community still lack access to convenient transportation options, and Smart Circuit is another exciting step in researching and deploying new technologies that have the potential to improve equity and expand access to opportunity in our city.”
The shuttles offer residents and visitors a hands-on educational experience with self-driving technology. Engineers, researchers and policymakers from Smart Columbus, DriveOhio and The Ohio State University will use the demonstration to inform future deployments of self-driving vehicle technology in Ohio, including a route planned for a Columbus neighborhood, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge grant.
Three all-electric vehicles service the 1.5-mile route, with shuttles arriving at each of four stops approximately every 10 minutes. The vehicle, which has a maximum speed of 25 MPH, has a four-seat “campfire” configuration in the rear of the vehicle as well as a 49-inch digital display that provides system and route information. A human operator rides aboard each vehicle with access to driving controls at all times. Michigan-based startup May Mobility operates the shuttles and employs its fleet attendants.
“Ohio’s investment in smart mobility technologies will ultimately lead to safer, less congested roadways and better access to jobs, community services and commerce,” Gov. John Kasich said. “Ohioans can now see for themselves how these technologies will transform the future of our state.”
“With this forward-thinking group of partners, we’re giving Ohio the opportunity to drive less and live more,” said Edwin Olson, CEO and co-founder of May Mobility. “May Mobility offers self-driving transportation solutions for communities today – and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to serve public riders for the very first time in our self-driving shuttles around Columbus’ beautiful Scioto Mile.”
Smart Circuit shuttles operate autonomously, using a suite of sensors that deliver a 360-degree view around the vehicle. The sensors and intelligent software help the vehicle understand where it is; in which direction to steer; and when to slow down, accelerate, or stop for something in its path. Mapping allows the vehicle to know every inch of its route and navigate through various traffic conditions. The vehicle operator provides riders with information about the route and technology and can take control of the vehicle at any time.
“The Columbus Region has long been a pioneer in autonomous vehicle research and development, thanks to assets like The Ohio State University and Transportation Research Center,” said Alex Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership. “Smart Circuit is the next step in Columbus’ emergence as a world-class destination for autonomous vehicle innovation, as we deploy the technology in a real-world setting for the first time and continue to discover the possibilities it brings.”
Smart Circuit will pick up and drop off passengers at Center of Science and Industry (COSI), the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Bicentennial Park and the Smart Columbus Experience Center. The shuttle is free to ride. Additional information is available at www.smartcircuitcbus.com.