Arlington, Texas, to Launch 'Nation's First Autonomous Public Shuttle Network'

If the pilot project works, Arlington could add more driverless shuttles.

by Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram / August 11, 2017

(TNS) -- That hike from your parking spot to games at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park may soon get a little easier.

In what Arlington is calling the nation’s first autonomous public shuttle network, the city will launch milo — short for mile zero, or when fans arrive at their destination — on Aug. 26 at the Dallas Cowboys preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, officials said Friday. They will also start being used for Texas Rangers games after that start date.

Two shuttles will operate from just south of Cowboys Way near Rangers parking lot R, and travel north along a sidewalk that hugs Johnson Creek through Dr. Robert Cluck Linear Park and Richard Greene Linear Park, ending just west of the Rangers parking lot J. There will be a stop by the bridge leading across Johnson Creek. The entire trip takes about 13 minutes.

The shuttles will help fans who have to park in remote lots and navigate the construction zone for Texas Live! and the upcoming work for the new Rangers stadium. But the impact will be limited, as each shuttle can carry 12 passengers.

“We have remote parking lots where people will have a very comfortable ride in air conditoning to get a ride to the facilty,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams.

The shuttles, made by EasyMile of Toulouse, France, have been in the testing phase this summer throughout Arlington’s Entertainment District. It is part of a one-year pilot program that the City Council approved in March. It costs $272,000 to lease the vehicles for the entire year.

Milo, Arlington’s self-driving shuttle, will ferry fans closer to events held at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park. It will not run on city streets.

Lauren Isaac, director of business initatives for EasyMile, said the shuttles will be a big help for those with disabilities or limited mobility.

If the pilot project works, Williams said Arlington could add more driverless shuttles.

“Stay tuned,” Williams said. “If it works, yes, we’ll have more. If it doesn’t, we’ll go on to something else.”

Arlington, which has rejected mass transit three times, will continue to look for different approaches to moving its citizens around the city. A transportation committee has been studying the issue and will make recommendations to the City Council.

Williams said traditional mass transit is not an option.

“I think light rail and diesel buses are outdated and that’s not what we’re after here in our city,” Williams said. “We’re looking at the new technology that will be much cheaper and safer.”

Under Texas law, autonomous shuttles must stay off city streets. So instead, milo is programmed to operate along trails through the two linear parks.

Did you know?

 Milo is free to use, wheelchair accessible, and can hold up to 12 passengers, (or 10 passengers plus one wheelchair).

 A certified operator will always be onboard.

The shuttles top speed is about 20 miles per hour. It can accelerate, brake and steer by itself.

 The driverless technology includes collision avoidance systems. It can detect other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and obstacles.

©2017 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.