Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that Lincoln is one of 35 Champion Cities selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies as finalists in the 2018 Mayors Challenge. More than 320 applications were received in the nationwide competition that encourages City leaders to develop bold, inventive ideas to confront City challenges.
The City is proposing to pilot an on-demand autonomous vehicle service operated by StarTran in downtown Lincoln to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Lincoln now advances to the six-month "Test, Learn and Adapt" phase of the idea competition. Each finalist will receive up to $100,000 to refine the ideas and develop a public prototype. The funding will allow the City to test one driverless shuttle this summer. The cities will also receive support from innovation experts to test and begin building support for their innovations.
The finalist cities will submit new applications in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.
If Lincoln's demo is successful and additional funding is received, four driverless shuttles could cover a 2.6-mile loop in downtown Lincoln in 2019. Riders would summon the shuttles using smart phones or kiosks on the loops.
"If implemented, autonomous shuttles will have a major impact not only on Lincoln, but will serve as a model for the rest of the State, nation and possibly the world," Mayor Beutler said. "Lincoln's selection as a Champion City is a testament to the types of investments and partnerships that are making our City a leader in innovation. Our decision to install underground fiber conduit in the downtown area led to the creation of the Lincoln Broadband Project. The Project is the cornerstone of Green Light Lincoln, which will support operations and data gathering for the new driverless shuttle system."
Lincoln State Senator Anna Wishart has introduced and prioritized LB 989, a bill that authorizes the City of Lincoln to conduct a pilot project to study autonomous vehicles. As introduced, Lincoln would submit a plan for approval by the State. The plan must include certain safety elements, such as verification of testing in controlled conditions, compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Automated Driving Systems, an approved testing area and communication links between the autonomous shuttle and remote operators. This legislation is needed to help secure grants to help fund the project.
"This grant and my legislation are exciting steps to bring this emerging technology to our city and to our state," Senator Wishart said. "Innovation and public safety are always near the top of my priority list, and autonomous technology is a great benefit for both innovation and public safety. I am also hopeful that this grant will lead to further investments and make Lincoln a leader in the deployment of driverless vehicles."
Mayor Beutler thanked Wishart as well as State Senators Suzanne Geist and Matt Hansen their support of the bill.
The Mayors Challenge returns to the U.S. as the first investment in the American Cities Initiative, a $200 million suite of new and expanded programs that will empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward.
"We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people's lives. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.
About the 2018 Mayors Challenge
The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria - vision, potential for impact, implementation plan and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee assessed the applications. It was Co-Chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns and included distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders.
The 2018 Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg's charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit www.bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.