Photo via Flickr/Roman Boed

Photo via Flickr/Roman Boed

The City of Beverly Hills, Calif., will begin developing an autonomous vehicle program for public transportation, following the City Council's April 5 approval of the initiative. The City Council hopes the vehicles will address “first and last mile” issues related to the expansion of Los Angeles County’s Metro subway into the city.

“This is a game-changer for Beverly Hills and, we hope, for the region,” said Mayor John Mirisch. “Beverly Hills is the perfect community to take the lead to make this technology a reality. It is now both feasible and safe for autonomous cars to be on the road.”

The subway extension with two stops in Beverly Hills is expected to be operational by 2026, but no new public parking is planned. The city envisions the autonomous vehicle shuttles would provide on-demand, point-to-point transportation within the city, with users requesting a ride using their smart phones, according to a city release.

The city plans to develop partnerships with A.V. manufacturers such as Google and Tesla, work with regulators and policy makers, and create a white paper outlining the A.V. program.

Craig Crowder, fleet manager for the City of Beverly Hills, who will be a member of the committee to research the project, is excited about adopting the newest technology into the city fleet. But he admits the city is just beginning. “There are a lot of hurdles to overcome at this point,” he said. These include vehicles not yet being available and state and federal regulations.

However, the city will have time to work on this project before the subway stops are open. A number of companies are predicting they will have AVs on the market in two to five years.