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Utah Embarks on a Mission to Familiarize Residents with AVs

Over the next year, a small electric autonomous shuttle will be deployed to showcase the potential for rapidly evolving transportation technology across the state.

Small self-driving shuttles will begin traveling through Utah as the state launches a pilot to introduce the technology to residents.

The Utah Transit Authority, in partnership with Utah Department of Transportation, will launch the Autonomous Shuttle Pilot Project. The shuttle will first be deployed at Station Park, a retail complex in Farmington. 

A shuttle provided by the company EasyMile, will tour various communities across the state for the next year, said Lisa Miller, outreach and growth manager with the Utah Department of Transportation.

VIDEO: Yesterday we invited media to check out the #AutonomousVehicle that will be touring the state over the next year. This partnership with @RideUTA aims to let people experience autonomous technology. Check out for more info. #avshuttleutah — Utah DOT (@UtahDOT) April 12, 2019
“The goal is to allow as many Utahns to experience the shuttle so they can better understand the technology," said Miller. "Currently, office parks with proximity to transit, hospital campuses, university campuses, special event centers and the Utah State Capitol are tentative deployment locations.” This AV shuttle program, like many similar projects across the country, will have a human operator on board — which UDoT refers to as a “host” — who is there to answer questions and generally put riders at ease with the technology. EasyMile electric vehicles accommodate about a dozen passengers and travel at speeds up to about 25 mph.

It’s not every day the Lt. Governor of the State of Utah steps in front of your bus. But as expected, the autonomous shuttle stopped in the nick of time! @SpencerJCox #utautonomousshuttle — John Gleason (@johnegleason) April 11, 2019
The small AV shuttles are often viewed as one of the most near-term applications of self-driving car technologies, as the vehicles are being deployed in parking lots, college campuses, government agencies and other locations to offer low-impact transit and help to close first-mile-last-mile gaps.

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.