Autonomous shuttle to undergo testing this summer in Lincoln, Nebraska

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A loaned Navya autonomous electric shuttle recently arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is expected to be in the city until at least mid-July as part of the city's study on using an autonomous shuttle system downtown to help with traffic and parking issues.

Lincoln is able to test the autonomous shuttle after being awarded a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Earlier this year, Lincoln was named one of 35 Champion Cities selected by Bloomberg as finalists in the 2018 Mayors Challenge, which is a nationwide competition that encourages City leaders to develop “bold, inventive ideas to confront City challenges.”

Since February, Lincoln has been working with Bloomberg to further develop the shuttle concept. In August, the finalist cities will submit new applications, and in October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to implement its idea.

If Lincoln's demo is successful and the city receives one of those awards, four to six automated shuttles could travel a fixed route in downtown Lincoln as part of a pilot program as early as next year. The shuttles would be summoned using smart phones or kiosks.

“Lincoln is seeking to become the first City in the U.S. to offer an on-demand autonomous shuttle service for public transportation,” says Mayor Chris Beutler.

“Lincoln residents will be able to summon the shuttle with smart phones, and an electric-powered shuttle will answer the call and tell them where and when to meet it. The shuttle will arrive and transport employees, students, tourists, and nearby residents to destinations along routes in the downtown area. All without a driver.”

During the time that the shuttle is in Lincoln this summer, a limited number of rides will be available. Information on the rides will be released once the shuttle starts operating.

Lincoln residents who take a ride in the shuttle this summer will be asked to provide feedback both before and after the shuttle rides. Those responses will help the Lincoln team develop its final application.

Lincoln has partnered with several entities for this project, including HDR, Allo, Nelnet, the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Innovation Campus, the Downtown Lincoln Association and The Mill.

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