US Ignite selected First Transit, in partnership with Perrone Robotics, as the autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle provider for the Fort Carson, Colo., Smart Transportation Testbed — a project funded 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 their 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.
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.
Unlike many other AV pilots, the initiative at Fort Carson includes a significant focus on transportation planning as well as data analytics, assessment, and modeling 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.
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.