Employees at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, Colo., can now board a self-driving shuttle to get around campus. The shuttle can carry up to 12 passengers and is designed to travel along a pre-programmed one-mile loop that connects multiple buildings and remote parking on the campus. The vehicle is equipped with a sensor and intelligent vehicle system to detect obstacles and avoid collisions.
During the first year of operation, NREL will collect and analyze vehicle and charging system operational data from the shuttle to help researchers better understand the associated energy use, charging, and energy storage needs, and autonomous systems operation and control. This will provide insight into areas important to the connected, intelligent, and automated vehicle space including grid integration, intelligent charge management, energy use, and human interactions with automated transportation systems.
“We are excited to partner with MV and EasyMile to introduce the autonomous shuttle on the NREL campus,” said Dr. Johney Green Jr., associate lab director for mechanical and thermal engineering sciences at NREL. “The fully-electric vehicle provides a real-life research platform aligned to the core NREL mission of advanced energy technology development.”
MV Transportation, which has provided transportation service for the lab since 2010, has introduced EasyMile’s EZ10 shuttle into circulator service during peak demand hours. MV oversees the operation and maintenance of the autonomous shuttle, and provides onboard stewards to provide passenger assistance.
Shuttle service began on September 9 after a dedicated ceremony with representatives from NREL, MV, and EasyMile.