The EasyMile EZ10 recently became the first driverless shuttle bus to receive approval to travel on public roads in California.
The shuttle made its debut at Bishop Ranch, the largest mixed-use business community in Northern California, according to a news release, after Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and GoMentum Station announced permission was granted from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to begin testing autonomous vehicles there.
CCTA is leading a pilot demonstration project testing electric, low-speed, multi-passenger autonomous vehicles manufactured by EasyMile, according to the release. The vehicles do not have a steering wheel, brake pedal, or an accelerator.
The California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1592 in 2016 to allow the pilot program. After successful testing at the GoMentum Station autonomous vehicle proving grounds in Concord, California, and in parking lots at Bishop Ranch, CCTA is now moving on to the third phase of the program.
CCTA received permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in October 2017 and from the California DMV in January 2018 to operate the EasyMile shuttle on public streets within the business park.
Members of the public won’t be able to ride in the shuttles just yet. For now, trained testers will be the only ones allowed on board the vehicles. Additional testers, including employees and employers within Bishop Ranch, are expected to be able to try out the shuttles later this year.
“We will look back on the issuance of this permit as a turning point for autonomous vehicle technology in the great state of California,” CCTA Executive Director Randell Iwasaki said, according to the release. “It is a huge step forward for safely developing a solution to the challenges that prevent people from using public transportation and will transform how we travel in Contra Costa and beyond.”