CCTA Receives Permission from NHTSA to Test Shared Autonomous Vehicles

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) received permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to test shared autonomous vehicles on public roads within the 600-acre Bishop Ranch business park, where CCTA is leading a pilot demonstration project operating electric, low-speed, multi-passenger, shared autonomous vehicles that are not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator or operator.

Authorized by California Assembly Bill 1592, CCTA is positioned to be the first to devise and fully implement a sustained, comprehensive autonomous vehicle and transit pilot program of this kind in the United States where autonomous vehicles will be sharing the road with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

In March 2017, CCTA, GoMentum Station, Bishop Ranch and EasyMile announced the second phase of testing for the EasyMile shared autonomous vehicles at the Bishop Ranch business park in San Ramon, California. Advancing to the third phase of testing – which includes operating on public roads within the business park – entails obtaining permission from both NHTSA and the California DMV. CCTA staff are in active discussions with DMV to provide the information required by state statute and secure permission for this next phase of activity on the pilot program.

‘‘We are excited to be at the cutting edge of innovation in driverless technology with one of the first pilot demonstrations of shared autonomous vehicles on public roads”, said Randy Iwasaki, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. “This technology offers an innovative new approach to helping travelers get to transit stations, business districts, and other local amenities without the hassle of driving and parking. We expect that these vehicles will solve the so-called ‘‘first-and-last-mile’’ challenge – a solution that could be replicated by many urban and suburban communities across the United States.” Shared, electric, autonomous vehicles will also dramatically reduce the need for parking, total vehicle miles traveled, and overall greenhouse gas emissions.

During the third phase of shared autonomous vehicle testing, members of the general public will not be able to ride the shared autonomous vehicles on public streets. Only predetermined testers and evaluators chosen from employees from various employers within Bishop Ranch will be able to ride the vehicles as they traverse public streets within the Bishop Ranch business park. EasyMile shuttles are designed to solve first-and-last mile commuting challenges, providing a zero-emission alternative to help residents connect to their transit centers and reduce congestion in their communities.