NAVYA's self-driving Autonom Shuttle. Photo: TARTA

NAVYA's self-driving Autonom Shuttle. Photo: TARTA

The Toledo (Ohio) Area Regional Transit Authority will receive a $1.8 million grant for a pilot program to test autonomous bus technology.

The test program will begin in 2019 and is expected to run for approximately three years. Exploring autonomous vehicles is a component in TARTA’s recently introduced Move Toledo strategic vision that outlines a variety of initiatives to enhance public transportation in metro Toledo. Originally slated to begin in a few years, this grant expedites TARTA’s plans to investigate the use of autonomous vehicles and electric-powered vehicles.

An autonomous shuttle bus will transport passengers along a dedicated route in the Toledo area. The exact route is still being determined but will likely connect several popular destinations in downtown Toledo. While the goal is for the vehicle to function autonomously, a driver will be in the vehicle at all times to ensure the safety of passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians, according to the agency.

TARTA’s autonomous vehicle pilot program will make Toledo one of the first cities in the nation to explore the use of autonomous vehicles for public transit, positioning the region as a leader in this technology. Knowledge gained from the program will be used to improve future developments of autonomous vehicle technologies for eventual use around the globe.

This program is possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. TARTA secured the grant in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. The grant is expected to fully fund the program; no local tax dollars will be used.

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