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Autonomous shuttle pilot project at White Bear Lake, USA

Autonomous shuttle pilot project at White Bear Lake, USA

Photo credit © Reuters

( — Navya The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), AECOM and the city of White Bear Lake, MN announced a new partnership in the United States to deploy the Navya autonomous Arma shuttle. This one-year project will provide a new transportation option in the White Bear Lake community. The shuttle will serve a 2.5km route connecting the Youth Center (YMCA) and PAI, The Boulders and several residential facilities including Willow Wood Apartments. Community members and stakeholders have dubbed the shuttle ‘Bear Tracks’ as it creates a new service in an area that has not yet benefited from a shared transport solution.

The autonomous Navya Arma spacecraft, 100% electric, uses countless sensors such as 2D and 3D lidars, GPS and odometry to determine its position on the route, as well as detect and track any obstacles, pedestrians or vehicles. The shuttle is fully autonomous, it has no steering wheel or pedals, but benefits from the presence of a safety operator who can manually intervene and provide service to passengers. This ‘bear track’ shuttle is equipped with a mobility ramp that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (TCA) standards. It is open from Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm and its access is free to the public.

AECOM will be Bear Tracks’ prime contractor, MnDOT will fund the project and Newtrax Transportation operators will be trained by Navya. The plan aligns with MnDOT’s Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) strategic plan, which includes increased mobility for people with disabilities, better travel options for aging communities, and public awareness of the technologies.

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A unique aspect of the program is an academic partnership with White Bear Lake High School and the University of Minnesota that provides students with first-hand experience with connected and automated vehicles and job development support.

Other key partners participating include Ramsey County, Nutrax, White Bear Lake Area Schools, the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence and the Area Chamber of Commerce.