First Transit, Inc. provides operation, management, and consulting for more than 300 locations...

First Transit, Inc. provides operation, management, and consulting for more than 300 locations in 39 states.

Photo: First Transit

First Transit announced that it will operate the Med City Mover, the state’s first connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) pilot, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Destination Medical Center, EasyMile, and the city of Rochester. The Med City Mover CAV pilot consists of two low-speed, automated, electric, multi-passenger shuttles operating in downtown Rochester, Minnesota.

The six-person shuttles will drive a circular route to serve Rochester residents, businesses, and visitors while passing by the Mayo Clinic downtown campus, residential neighborhoods and apartments, stores, and hotels.

“As the leader in autonomous vehicle operations, we thank MnDOT for putting their trust in us for the first CAV pilot operating on public roads in the state,” said Nick Promponas, SVP at First Transit. “My team looks forward to operating the year-long two-shuttle pilot providing another mobility option for the citizens of Rochester.”  

EasyMile supplied the AV shuttles, each with a ramp for wheelchair access and shoulder restraints for passengers. 

First Transit is providing operations and maintenance for the Med City Mover pilot, including onboard attendants to ensure the vehicle's safe operation.

The two shuttles will leverage vehicle-to-infrastructure technology (V2I) to connect with traffic signals, signs, and other road items or obtain data from a cloud. 

“Partnership projects like this are essential to better understand the benefits, challenges, risks and opportunities of automated technology,” said Tara Olds, deputy director of connected vehicles for MnDOT. “Community engagement is also a priority — feedback from riders about their experiences on these vehicles will help us continue to improve our transportation system and create a future that prioritizes travel options, reliability, equity and sustainability.”