August 17, 2017
I just returned from the Association for Commuter Transportation conference in New Orleans, where several exciting sessions discussed autonomous (or driverless) vehicles and electric vehicles. These vehicles could eventually play a role in improving commutes, though there are still many questions to answer.
Local company Innova EV is partnering with Choose DuPage to provide “last mile” connections from the Itasca Metra Station to the Hamilton Lakes Business Park. Innova, which is based in Burr Ridge, IL, will bridge the gap from the train station to the 9,000-employee business park using DASH ON DEMAND electric vehicles. The cost is about $3/ride, which is lower than an Uber, Lyft, or taxi ride for the same trip.
Easy Mile, a company headquartered in Toulouse, France, will experiment with a driverless shuttle in a business park in San Ramon, California. Easy Mile’s AV 12 driverless shuttle accommodates 12 people, half seated and half standing. These vehicles are equipped with sensors and intelligent systems to detect obstacles and avoid collisions. They travel as fast as 15 m.p.h. and can operate for 14 hours on a battery charge.
Easy Mile will use two AV 12 vehicles to operate a fixed route around the 585-acre Bishop Ranch Office Park. The shuttles will connect office tenants to multiple transit options including bus, bike and car sharing services. Although the vehicles are driverless, each one will have a customer service agent onboard for passenger questions and information.
These two examples show how driverless, electric vehicles can fill the last mile gap between transit stations and workplaces. TMA of Lake-Cook will be watching these programs closely to see what lessons they will offer for commuters around the Chicago region.
Stay tuned for more stories about this subject (and others) in the blog series.