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Autonomous shuttle service coming to Downtown Detroit this summer: What to know

staticwire | April 2, 2024
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Detroit is set to become the newest hub for autonomous vehicle technology with the launch of a new shuttle service that will connect different parts of the city this summer. The pilot project, called Connect, will operate an 11-mile route from Michigan Central in Corktown to Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design on the east side of Detroit.

The autonomous shuttle service will be operated in partnership with the state and Bedrock, using Ford’s electric E-Transit vans. Each shuttle will have a safety operator behind the wheel to ensure the safety of passengers during the ride. The service is expected to run exclusively between the two designated locations without any stops in between.

Officials have announced that the Connect is expected to start operating “late” this summer, although a specific launch date has not been announced. The service will begin with four Ford vans that will offer a mixture of passenger seats and wheelchair accessibility. It is not yet clear how many seats will be available in each shuttle, but traditional non-electric Ford Transit vans typically seat 12 passengers.

The goal of the pilot shuttle service is to learn and refine autonomous vehicle transit services to better serve the diverse needs of the community. It is part of the city’s broader efforts to expand and enhance its transit services while ensuring affordability for residents.

In a press release on April 2, the city of Detroit highlighted the Connect as an example of future transportation innovation in the Michigan Central development area. The project aims to set a new standard for sustainable, efficient, and community-centric mobility in the city.

Bedrock, Michigan Central, and the city of Detroit are collaborating to design and implement operations for the new shuttle service. Before the Connect officially launches, the autonomous shuttles will undergo extensive testing on and off the road for several months to ensure their safety and efficiency.

The introduction of the Connect shuttle service reflects Detroit’s commitment to embracing cutting-edge transportation solutions and improving accessibility within the city. Stay tuned for updates on the launch date and additional details about this exciting new project.

Written by staticwire

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