Self-driving electric shuttle bus hits the streets of Virginia

The shuttle promises to provide a green transit option for shoppers, businesses and visitors in the region

A self-driving electric shuttle bus has started operations in the streets of Virginia in the US as part of a pilot programme.

The vehicle is considered to be Virginia’s first publicly-funded autonomous electric shuttle.

The free Relay shuttle, which will carry up to 12 passengers, will operate in a busy district and promises to provide a zero-emission transit option for shoppers, visitors and businesses in the area.

The bus features a set of sensors, including cameras and GPS, and a safety steward will always be on-board the shuttle to monitor operations.

The project is funded with a $200,000 (£153k) state grant and a $50,000 (£38,3k) match from Fairfax County.

This pilot project is a partnership between Fairfax County, the utility Dominion Energy, the real state developer EDENS, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the George Mason University.

Mark Webb, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Dominion Energy, said: “Transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions and electric vehicles are one way we can help other sectors reduce their impact on the environment.”

Jeffrey McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, commented: “If there is a technology that is going to improve the quality of life of our residents through cleaner air, more efficient transit, and a stronger economy we want to be on the forefront of that.”

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