RTD’s Robot Bus Launch: A video, 7 Pics and Mayor Hancock’s Selfie

RTD's new driverless shuttle at a bus stop. Photo: RTD.
RTD's new driverless shuttle at a bus stop. Photo: RTD.
The reveal! EasyMile says its shuttle and operating system have been tested and verified over 200,000 miles in 22 counties, and have transported over 320,000 people with no accidents or injuries. Photo: RTD.
At a ceremony yesterday, officials revealed the robot bus. Photo: RTD.

Yesterday, the Regional Transportation District kicked off the first-ever passenger service on a driverless electric bus in Colorado.

The little, futuristic-looking bus will carry up to 12 passengers at a time along RTD’s newest route, the 61AV. It will originate at the Peña Boulevard transit station, go to a Park-n-Ride facility and hit three stops within the sparse Panasonic “smart city” campus near DIA. Rides will be free during the six-month trial period. Service will be every 15 minutes.

[Read more: Ride the Robot Bus: RTD Denver Will Launch a Driverless Shuttle Next Week.]

Mayor Hancock and officials cut a ribbon before launching the new service.
Mayor Hancock and officials cut a ribbon before launching the new service. Photo: RTD.

After a ribbon cutting ceremony, Denver Mayor Michael Hanccock was among the first to ride RTD’s newest route, the the 61AV.

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Officials after boarding the vehicle for its maiden voyage. Photo: RTD.

The vehicle, which is part of a six-month pilot project, will not be useful to many people as it circulates around a virtually empty tract of land near Denver International Airport. But the new mobility option could one day get people out of cars and onto buses and trains by connecting transit stops to destinations too far to walk.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock takes a selfie aboard RTD's new autonomous shuttle. Also pictured: Sharad Agarwal, EasyMile; Jarrett Wendt, Panasonic; Cal Fulenwider, III, L.C. Fulenwider, Inc.;Doug Tisdale, RTD Chair.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock takes a selfie aboard RTD’s new autonomous shuttle. Also pictured: Sharad Agarwal, EasyMile; Jarrett Wendt, Panasonic; Cal Fulenwider, III, L.C. Fulenwider, Inc.;
Doug Tisdale, RTD Chair. Photo: Michael B. Hancock.

“We’re excited to see how driverless technology will work in Denver and to embrace new, innovative and better mobility options to move more people and improve travel for residents and visitors alike,” Mayor Hancock said in a press release.

The robot-bus drives on city streets. Video: Denver Department of Public Works.

The driverless vehicle navigates regular streets.
RTD’s graphic treatment for the bus references the Rocky Mountains, which can be seen in the background. Photo: RTD.

EasyMile, which makes the autonomous vehicle, says it has been tested over 200,000 miles in 22 counties and transported over 320,000 people with no accidents or injuries.

Though no other cars are present, the autonomous vehicle can operate in mixed traffic. Photo: RTD.
Though no other cars are present, the autonomous vehicle can operate in mixed traffic. Photo: RTD.
Even on its first day of passenger service, some riders were able to find a seat. Photo: RTD.
Even on its first day of passenger service, some riders were able to find a seat. Photo: RTD.

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  • TakeFive

    I think they’re cute.

  • Riley Warton

    I was there! Granted, it was the day after, but it’s still an interesting vehicle. Right now it still reqiures an operator, but even with an operator I’m confident that this technology will play a big part in solving the driver shortage. Then again, the technology needs to advance first.

    One of the advances that needs to happen is that it needs to speed up. The average apeed is waaaay too slow.

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