Excitement builds for autonomous shuttle scheduled to launch this year from Michigan Central

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 22:05:49-04

(WXYZ) — “I think it shows the power of Detroit and the minds that we have here,” said Alan Wisniewski.

More movement means more action to Alan Wisniewski who works in the mobility industry at Newlab and walks to lunch.

“There’s a lot of industry-leading folks and companies that are located here in Detroit,” said Wisniewski. “I think it speaks to what we're building here in Detroit.”

A two-way, 10-mile autonomous vehicle called Connect is ready to roll this summer. It’s free of charge and runs from Michigan Central Station to Detroit’s East Riverfront near the Bedrock property.

It’s all part of a partnership with Bedrock, Michigan Central Station, and the City of Detroit to make this move.

“It’s amazing! I get to think about mobility in the lens of moving people, moving goods, moving information by land, water, and air,” said Justine Johnson, Chief Mobility Officer, State of Michigan.

“It’s so important for someone who is in a wheelchair right now. Knowing that they can utilize a shuttle and connect from this innovation District here at Michigan Central all the way to various stops along the route," said Justine Johnson, Chief Mobility Officer, State of Michigan.

“It’s 100% electric, it’s fully autonomous, and the other thing too, it’s going to be able to operate year-round. It’s going to be an attraction factor for those individuals,” said Tim Slusser, Chief of Mobility Innovation, City of Detroit.

“We’re also implementing a solution here in the City of Detroit where we’re going to have a safety operator on the vehicle at all times,” added Slusser.

Hearing from old and new Detroiters about this initiative today, it sounds like a necessity.

“I’m from Spain, I just moved here to work, I was previously living in Japan,” said Marti Lombarte Soler, a new Detroit resident.

"What do you think about mobility as a city,” I asked.

“To put it nicely, it could use some improvement. Everywhere I lived, I only used public transport. Now I have to drive,” added Soler.