May 20th, 2019
Smart Columbus Selects EasyMile to Operate Self-Driving Shuttles in Linden Neighborhood
Columbus, OH, May 20, 2019 – Smart Columbus today announced that EasyMile has been selected to operate the self-driving shuttle route in Columbus’ Linden neighborhood. Two level-four autonomous EasyMile EZ10 vehicles will service the 2.7 mile route, helping to solve “first-mile / last-mile” mobility challenges by providing free rides that will connect passengers from the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Linden Transit Center to community resources at St. Stephen’s Community House, Douglas Community Recreation Center and Rosewind Resident Council. The fully-electric, ADA-accessible vehicles accommodate up to 15 passengers and travel at an electronically limited speed of 15 miles per hour. Operators trained by EasyMile will be on board the vehicles at all times.
“Access to mobility can bring jobs, education and health care within reach for Columbus residents,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said. “Through this partnership, we are leveraging new technology to connect our residents to the resources they need to live their best lives, including public transportation, affordable housing, healthy food, childcare, recreation and more. We look forward to introducing this innovative mobility service to help connect our neighbors to their community and to opportunity.”
“We are proud to introduce our autonomous vehicle technology to Columbus and partner on this important, first-of-its-kind project,” Sharad Agarwal, Senior Vice President of EasyMile North America, said. “We believe this will be a model for cities globally and we are grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate the technology as a safe, new mobility option for Columbus residents and visitors."
Based on EasyMile’s robust autonomous technology, the EZ10 is fully electric and can carry up to 15 people. The shuttle follows a predefined route and is equipped with a full range of sensors to detect and avoid potential obstacles. Benefiting from the latest developments in robotics and artificial intelligence, it is today the most deployed autonomous shuttle in the world with over 210 sites over 26 countries. Real-time information about the location of the shuttles will steam into the Smart Columbus Operating System, and will eventually integrate with an app being developed by Smart Columbus that will help travelers better plan and pay for trips throughout the city.
Operators trained by EasyMile will be on board at all times to oversee the technology, help passengers board and alight the vehicles, share information about the technology and Smart Columbus, and operate the vehicles’ accessibility ramp, door and charging station. Operators will have the ability to take control of the vehicles using an industrial-grade wireless remote control, if needed.
“This will be a game changer for Linden, allowing residents to tackle the ‘first-mile / last-mile’ barrier head on, bringing services and resources within better reach,” St. Stephen’s Community House CEO, Marilyn J. Mehaffie said. “I think about the person picking up fresh food at our Produce Market, the mother taking her child to a check-up at PrimaryOne, or one of our seniors coming for breakfast-- any transportation barrier that would’ve hindered them is no longer a concern.”
The Linden shuttle will be the second deployment of self-driving vehicle technology in Columbus. The first route, Smart Circuit, opened to passengers in December 2018 and has transported more than 8,400 passengers around Columbus’ Scioto Mile to date.
“This is a prime example of how COTA’s partnership with Smart Columbus can help technology create a better quality of life through increased mobility,” said Joanna M. Pinkerton, President/CEO of COTA. “We are excited to see how this latest Smart Columbus project will impact the community of Linden.”
The recommendation to partner with EasyMile comes after a five-month public procurement process and approval from Columbus City Council. The shuttle route was informed by feedback from Linden residents and is funded by the Smart City Challenge grant awarded to Columbus by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vehicle mapping and operator training will begin along the route in September; shuttles are expected to open to passengers in November 2019 and will operate for one year.
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About Smart Columbus
The City of Columbus’ Smart Columbus plan won the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016 after competing against 77 cities nationwide to become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors – into its transportation network. Columbus was also awarded an additional $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies to accelerate the transition to an electrified, low-emissions transportation system. Aligned investments totaling more than $500 million have been made by the private, public and academic institutions in the region to support technology and infrastructure investments that upgrade Columbus' transportation network and help make Columbus the model connected city of the future. Smart Columbus is a regional smart city initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and Columbus Partnership that includes partnerships with The Ohio State University, Battelle, American Electric Power and many more.
For more information, visit the Smart Columbus website, smart.columbus.gov.
EasyMile is a pioneer in autonomous vehicle technology and smart mobility solutions. The fast-growing company develops software to automate transportation platforms without the need for dedicated infrastructure. EasyMile’s cutting-edge technology is revolutionizing passenger and goods transportation, offering completely new mobility options. It has already deployed over 230 autonomous vehicle projects with more than 380,000 people transported over 600,000 km. Clients include the world’s largest transport operators, city authorities, airports, corporations, business parks and universities.
Founded in 2014, EasyMile has a global presence with headquarters in Toulouse (France) and regional offices in Denver (USA), Berlin (Germany), Adelaide (Australia) and Singapore. The company employs over 170 highly-skilled and passionate employees specializing in robotics, computer vision and vehicle dynamics.
Besides the two founders, CEO Gilbert Gagnaire & Board Member Philippe Ligier, EasyMile benefits from the backing of minority shareholders and strategic partners, Alstom, Continental and Bpifrance.
For more information, visit easymile.com.
About St. Stephen’s Community House
Founded in 1919, St. Stephen’s Community House serves the Linden neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio and 11 surrounding zip codes. St. Stephen’s Community House commits to strengthening families and empowering the community by serving 22,000 individuals annually through six core service areas, Childcare, Family Services, Senior Services, Youth Services, Neighborhood Services, and an Urban Farm.
For more information, visit saintstephensch.org.