Automated & Connected

A driverless, automated and connected shuttle ready for passengers in Columbus, Ohio. Image: May Mobility.

City of Columbus to increase its automated and connected shuttle service

Smart Columbus, a region-wide Smart City initiative co-led by the City of Columbus, Ohio and the Columbus Partnership, extends its Smart Circuit automated and connected shuttle program by adding a new route to serve residents in the Linden area of Columbus, the organization announced Friday.

Smart Columbus and DriveOhio launched Smart Circuit, Ohio’s first automated and connected, self-driving shuttle program in December 2018.

To get things rolling, they offered free rides so residents could gain a glimpse into the future of what transportation might look like in the coming years.

Since the initial launch of the shuttles in December, Smart Columbus reports that their self-driving shuttles have transported more than 2,400 passengers.

The current Smart Circuit shuttles serve destinations around Columbus’ Scioto Mile from 6 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.

The Scioto Mile is a stretch along the city’s downtown riverfront that includes the vibrant Arena District on the north end and the Whittier Peninsula area on the south. The area includes 145 acres of lush parkland, fountains, scenic overlooks and a riverfront promenade. These amenities are now more readily available to area residents with limited transportation options.

The Smart City shuttle program focuses on connecting residents to resources and provides an opportunity for engineers to learn how automated technology impacts the community.

Smart Columbus describes the benefits of its shuttles as offering residents and visitors a hands-on educational experience with self-driving technology.

Moreover, engineers, researchers and policymakers from Smart Columbus, DriveOhio and The Ohio State University are leveraging the program to inform future deployments of self-driving vehicle technology throughout Ohio. The initial launch of the shuttle service was much ballyhooed.

“Smart Circuit gives us an opportunity to learn more about self-driving technology in real time as we work to improve our city’s transportation ecosystem,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, when the program was officially launched. “Many people in our community still lack access to convenient transportation options, and Smart Circuit is another exciting step in researching and deploying new technologies that have the potential to improve equity and expand access to opportunity in our city."

Ohio Governor John Kasich praised the initial program.

“Ohio’s investment in smart mobility technologies will ultimately lead to safer, less congested roadways and better access to jobs, community services and commerce,” Gov. John Kasich said. “Ohioans can now see for themselves how these technologies will transform the future of our state.”

Three all-electric vehicles service the 1.5-mile Scioto Mile route, with shuttles arriving at each of four stops approximately every 10 minutes.

The current shuttles have a maximum speed of 25 MPH and feature four-seat “campfire” configurations in the rear of the vehicle as well as a 49-inch digital display that provides system and route information.

Passenger apprehensive to riding in a driverless, connected and automated vehicle is assuaged with a human operator, included on board each vehicle. In the event of a problem, the operator can always access driving controls.

Learn More: Take a ride on a driverless, automated and connected shuttle

Smart Circuit shuttles are powered by a suite of sensors that deliver a 360-degree view around the vehicle. The sensors and intelligent software help the vehicle understand where it is; in which direction to steer; and when to slow down, accelerate, or stop for something in its path.

Mapping technology enables each shuttle to know every inch of its route and navigate through various traffic conditions. The vehicle operator serves to provide riders with information about the route and technology.

May Mobility, a Michigan-based startup, operates the current shuttles servicing the Scioto Mile and employs fleet attendants. However, Smart Columbus is seeking a transportation provider to service the new Linden route.

A shuttle provider for the new route is anticipated to be selected in spring and should begin serving the Linden community in November, Smart Columbus stated.

To learn more about the Smart Circuit program, click the link below.

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Matt De Reno is SAE MOBILUS web portal manager at SAE International. His interests include automated and connected vehicles, micromobility, smart cities, and automotive cybersecurity.  

Original Article