Mobility

Calif. autonomous vehicle program to solve first, last mile issues

Posted on April 11, 2016

courtesy Government Fleet Magazine
courtesy Government Fleet Magazine
The City of Beverly Hills, Calif. passed an initiative to develop an autonomous vehicle (AV) program for public transportation.

The City Council hopes this will address “first and last mile” issues related to the Los Angeles Metro's expansion into the city.

“This is a game-changer for Beverly Hills and, we hope, for the region,” said Mayor John Mirisch. “Beverly Hills is the perfect community to take the lead to make this technology a reality. It is now both feasible and safe for autonomous cars to be on the road.”

LA Metro’s subway extension, which is expected to be operational by 2026, will include two stops in Beverly Hills but no new public parking is planned. The City envisions the autonomous vehicle shuttles to provide on-demand, point-to-point transportation within the city, with users requesting a ride using their smart phones, according to a city release.

The City plans to develop partnerships with AV manufacturers such as Google and Tesla, work with regulators and policymakers and create a white paper outlining the AV program.

Craig Crowder, fleet manager for the City of Beverly Hills, who will be a member of the committee to research the project, is excited about adopting the newest technology into the city fleet. But he admits the city is just beginning.

“There are a lot of hurdles to overcome at this point,” he said. These include vehicles not yet being available and state and federal regulations.

A number of companies are predicting they will have AVs on the market in two to five years.

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