Mayor Chris Beutler said the arrival of an autonomous electric shuttle in Lincoln is a historic moment for a project that could be a "game-changer for both the public and private sectors."
The loaned Navya (NAWV-yuh) shuttle is expected to be in Lincoln until at least mid-July as part of the City's study on using an autonomous shuttle system downtown to help with traffic and parking issues. A limited number of rides will be available, and information on the rides will be released when the shuttle begins operating.
Lincoln is able to test the shuttle because of a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Earlier this year, Lincoln was named one of 35 Champion Cities selected by Bloomberg 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.
Lincoln has been working with Bloomberg since February to further develop the shuttle concept. 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 implement its idea. If Lincoln's demo is successful and additional funding is received, four to six automated shuttles could travel a fixed route in downtown Lincoln as part of a pilot program as early as 2019. Riders would summon the shuttles using smart phones or kiosks.
"Lincoln is seeking to become the first City in the U.S. to offer an on-demand autonomous shuttle service for public transportation," Mayor Chris Beutler said. "Lincoln residents will be able to summon the shuttle with smart phones, and an electric-powered shuttle will answer the call and tell them where and when to meet it. The shuttle will arrive and transport employees, students, tourists, and nearby residents to destinations along routes in the downtown area. All without a driver.
"Autonomous vehicle technology will change the course of history, generating the same transformational impact on our society as the transcontinental railroad or the national interstate system," he said. "With this project we get to be a part of shaping that history."
Lincoln residents who ride the loaned shuttle this summer will be asked to provide feedback both before and after the shuttle rides, and those responses will help the City team develop its final application.
The City's partners in the project include HDR, Allo, Nelnet, the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Innovation Campus, the Downtown Lincoln Association and The Mill.
More information on Lincoln's project is available at shuttle.lincoln.ne.gov.
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.