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New autonomous shuttle route planned between Detroit's East Riverfront & Michigan Central

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Posted at 6:47 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 21:42:52-04

A new two-way, 10-mile autonomous vehicle shuttle route is being planned between Detroit's east riverfront and Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

The City of Detroit announced Tuesday morning it has partnered with Bedrock, Michigan Central and the State Office of Future Mobility and Electrification to pilot the route, which they are calling "Connect."

It's the latest autonomous vehicle venture near Michigan Central in Corktown.

Officials say the plan is to run the shuttle between Bedrock's 200 Walker Street property on Detroit's East Riverfront to Michigan Central along a 10.8-mile route. The Bedrock property is home to Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design.

The Connect pilot service is set to open this summer and be provided at no cost to riders. Officials say they have already gotten $1.5 million in funding for first-year operations, split equally between Bedrock, Michigan Central and the state.

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According to the city, The Connect route is aimed at learning and refining an AV transit service.

"The Connect pilot signifies a bold leap toward sustainable and efficient mobility in our city. Through collaborative efforts, we not only aim to provide a reliable and efficient transportation experience connecting neighborhoods, transit routes and modes, and economic hubs but also position Detroit at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle race," Detroit Chief of Mobility Innovation Tim Slusser said in a statement.

The city said it will lead community outreach initiatives with residents before deployment.

“We are proud to partner with the City of Detroit and Michigan Central to enhance accessibility and connectivity in Detroit," Bedrock CEO Kofi Bonner said in a statement. "Investing in reliable, sustainable last-mile transit options is crucial for creating a vibrant city core.  Implementing innovations like the Connect pilot further solidifies Detroit's leadership in sustainable mobility.”

“Michigan Central is focused on finding real solutions to the challenges society faces with the way we move people and goods. This pilot is an opportunity to explore a new way to think about public transportation that works in tandem with the city’s existing bus system while expanding access to more people and places,” said Carolina Pluszczynski, Michigan Central’s chief operating officer and head of Innovation Services.

Perrone Robotics, Inc. has been selected as the partner for the pilot.

Once it's deployed, there will be four Ford E-Transit shuttles which include passenger seats and wheelchair accessibility.

They will use Perrone Robitics' TONY AV Kit for autonomous vehicles, and there will always be a safety operator behind the wheel.