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Self-Driving Buses: Minnesota Pilot Project - IEEE Region 4 Presentation

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), with support from WSB and AECOM (Consultant Team), recently pursued an Autonomous Bus Pilot project to research vehicle and infrastructure requirements for an automated vehicle bus that can safely operate in cold weather climate conditions in the state of Minnesota. Phase 1 included a technology assessment, feasibility study, pilot site selection, and solicitation of an automated vehicle industry partner. Phase 2 involved working with the selected technology partner in finalizing the design, deployment plan, and performing self-driving vehicle testing in a variety of weather conditions. A unique aspect of Minnesota is cold and snowy winter weather conditions which currently create several challenges for automated vehicle operations. The team also recognized that a likely area of initial roll-out could be private third party fully automated bus/transit shuttle service. The purpose of the pilot was to better prepare for the operations of an automated bus in mixed general traffic and in Minnesota cold weather climate conditions. Initial testing occurred at an isolated controlled test site and included test scenarios with other traffic, bikes, pedestrians and other obstructions. Several public outreach efforts were also conducted including rides offered to the public in downtown Minneapolis during the 2018 Super Bowl.