MnDOT: Self-driving buses arriving in downtown Rochester in 2020

MnDOT said the one-year pilot project is scheduled to begin at the start of the summer.

Posted: Mar 3, 2020 4:43 PM
Updated: Mar 3, 2020 5:41 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - If you thought 2020 would look a little more futuristic you're in luck! Self-driving shuttle buses are making their way to downtown Rochester this year.

Speaking at Minnesota's Transportation Conference on Tuesday the department said the one-year pilot project is scheduled to begin at the start of the summer.

The shuttles will circle an 18-square block downtown and will carry up to 12 people at a time. The buses will travel at 10-12mph and run from 9am-3pm.

Connected & automated vehicle project manager Mike Kronzer says MnDOT is currently waiting on federal regulations to begin installing technology so the shuttles can "talk" with traffic signals.

Kronzer added, "That communication is regulated by the FCC and there are some issues to work through there. We have to get some things licensed to make that work."

The DOT says it's hoping the project will give the department more insight into how the vehicles will handle the winter weather.

"We want to operate it in all weather conditions a lot of times these tests are going on in state like California, Arizona, or Florida where
it's nice weather for operating these things but it doesn't really test the course's technology," said Kronzer.

The project is in partnership with EasyMile, First Transit, and the city of Rochester.

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