10-mile autonomous shuttle route to connect Michigan Central to Detroit Riverfront

A free autonomous shuttle is coming to Detroit as part of a pilot program.

The 10-mile route will connect Ford's mobility campus at Michigan Central to the east part of the riverfront. Four electric Ford E-transit wheelchair accessible vans will shuttle passengers on the route, which has plans to launch this summer. Though the vehicles are autonomous, a safety operator will also be in the shuttles. 

"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," said Tim Slusser, chief of the City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation.

Shuttle route (City of Detroit)

The city says the shuttle pilot is part of a goal of achieving a zero-emission public transportation system.

According to the City of Detroit, the pilot has secured $1.5 million in funding for the first year from Michigan Central, Bedrock, and the State of Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME).

One of the shuttles (City of Detroit)

"We are proud to partner with the City of Detroit and Michigan Central to enhance accessibility and connectivity in Detroit," said Kofi Bonner, CEO at Bedrock. "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."

Over the next few months, the shuttles will be tested both on and off-road. 

The city's Office of Mobility Innovation will share finalized project details, including service operations and pick-up locations, with residents and gather feedback before the pilot launches. 

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