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Autonomous Vehicles Entering Operation Soon: Testing by First Transit; Keolis' Free Preview in Las Vegas

First Transit is preparing to test 12-passenger autonomous vehicles (AV) in anticipation of launching North America’s first AV passenger shuttle pilot later this year.

The fixed-route service will operate with designated stops within the 585-acre Bishop Ranch Office Park in San Ramon, CA, in partnership with a company that provides software powering AVs and last-mile mobility solutions. A customer service agent will be on board each vehicle, which will connect passengers to multiple public transit options, including Central Contra Costa Transit Authority express routes, bike and car-sharing services. The office park is home to more than 550 of the world’s leading companies, including Chevron, General Electric and Toyota.

“The AV passenger shuttle is also a great solution for first and last mile services, airport parking and university transportation,” said Sharad Agarwal, senior vice president, strategy and growth, First Transit.

In Las Vegas, Keolis launched a week-long pilot run Jan. 10 for an autonomous, fully electric shuttle it called the first ever to be deployed on a U.S. public roadway. The public can ride free on the vehicle, which carries up to a dozen passengers as it operates in regular street traffic.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is providing transit planning counsel to the project, and Keolis is partnering with the city and a French company that developed the autonomous technology. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and other local officials attended launch ceremonies for the vehicle in the city’s downtown Innovation District, established to create a center for testing groundbreaking technology in alternative energy, citizen participation, transportation and social infrastructure.

An example of the shuttle vehicle that First Transit will operate throughout the Bishop Ranch Office Park.

Keolis’ automated vehicle, operating on a pilot basis through Jan. 20 in downtown Las Vegas.

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