First Transit, in partnership with Perrone Robotics, has been selected by US Ignite to provide autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle service at the Fort Carson, Colo., Smart Transportation Testbed—a project funding and managed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).
First Transit will deliver and operate two Polaris GEM autonomous shuttles custom-configured by Perrone Robotics using its TONY (TO Navigate You) autonomy kit. The electric AVs, which support Level 5 autonomous capability, will transport soldiers within the Fort Carson Army installation while also collecting operational data as part of the year-long pilot.
“After a rigorous screening process, First Transit was selected based on their industry-leading operational expertise and proven track record in successfully delivering on multiple prior AV pilots,” said Eric Werner, director of autonomous vehicle programs, US Ignite. “We’re thrilled to have the company join our team and to partner in close collaboration with Perrone Robotics as we move forward into the next phase of testbed development.”
The goal of the Smart Transportation Testbed is to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for scaling AV technologies at Fort Carson and other military installations throughout the U.S. Over the course of the project, the shuttle program will focus on reducing operational costs, improving public safety and enhancing the lives of soldiers and families living and working at the post.
The initiative at Fort Carson includes a significant focus on transportation planning as well as data analytics, assessment and modelling for future autonomous shuttle deployments. In addition to sensors and cameras on the vehicles, roadside cameras will be installed and connected to a dedicated wireless network along the route to capture information about the vehicle and pedestrian behavior surrounding the AV shuttles.
“We are proud to bring our extensive shared autonomous vehicle experience to the Fort Carson Smart Transportation Testbed initiative,” said Brad Thomas, president of First Transit. “This partnership allows ongoing data and information to be collected in order to continue to enhance the passenger experience on AVs.”
Currently, there are several traditional shuttles operating at Fort Carson to transport soldiers living and working at the installation. The new autonomous shuttles will extend the hours of service to key destinations, adding to the overall transportation capacity. Test operations are beginning now with safety protocols in place to protect against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.