Lincoln Multimodal Technology Vision

Lincoln is on the move. Understanding the direction and anticipating how new transportation technologies can be utilized, the City is embarking on one of the largest deployments of autonomous microtransit vehicles into a mixed traffic environment anywhere in the United States.

This is an exciting time, with many emerging technologies that are poised to increase mobility options for individuals around the world, and Lincoln will establish itself as a community at the forefront of using those technologies for the good of its people.

This project will use a relatively new form of transportation: the autonomous microshuttle. Several companies are developing these vehicles and systems, with dozens of deployments in the United States and many more throughout the world.

This will be a demand-responsive system, meaning the shuttles will only operate and make stops if there is a direct request from a rider through a smartphone app or kiosk. Shuttles will travel in open traffic on Lincoln’s public roadways along a predefined route, making pick-ups and drop-offs at predefined stops at a user’s request. Vehicles typically can carry from 8-16 passengers, and travel at average speeds from 15-20 miles per hour. This initial pilot is intended to last two years, with an operational deployment date by Spring/Summer 2019 pending funding. When deployed, this will be one of the largest single deployment of mixed-traffic microshuttles in the country.

An example of an autonomous microshuttle An example of an autonomous microshuttle Image source: HDR

What do we hope to achieve?

As this project is developed and is eventually kicked off, it is critical to keep focus on the goals of the project. The overall goals of the project include:

  • Safely and efficiently move people between major destinations and landmarks within Downtown Lincoln
  • Test an on-demand autonomous service along a fixed route
  • Highlight innovative transportation in Lincoln

How will riders use the service?

The process for riding the shuttle should be easy and straightforward. Users already familiar with ridesharing apps will be able to quickly use the new app, while new users should find it easy to learn.

  • Start the app

    Similar to current ride­sharing services, the app will use GPS to identify the user’s location and calculate which route stop is closest to his or her location.

  • Select pick-up & drop-off locations & confirm with a mobile app payment

    Users will confirm their pick-up location and identify their drop-off location among one of the pre­determined stops along the route. They will confirm the trip through a mobile application payment system built into the app.

  • Go to the nearest pick-up location

    The app will tell the user how much time they have to get to the pick-up location once the ride is requested. The AV’s management software will deploy vehicles based on demand, and calculate which vehicle will be best able to serve the users in the system at any given time.

  • Board the shuttle

    Once the shuttle arrives at the pre­determined pick-up location, the rider can board and begin their trip. The shuttle may pick up other passengers and will calculate if one of the shortcut routes will be used.

  • Arrive at destination

    The shuttle will make stops that are requested for either pick-up or drop-off locations. Once a rider reaches their destination, the doors open and they exit the vehicle.

Where will it serve?

The proposed route is intended to serve the highest concentrations of people and attractions in Downtown. It is intended to be easy to use, easy to understand, and provide enough stops to be easily accessible.

Proposed microshuttle route

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This document represents a vision for how the City of Lincoln, Nebraska will establish itself as a nationwide leader in the implementation of autonomous vehicle technology, and how that technology will be used in a real-world deployment to support Lincoln’s existing transit service. Upon implementation, this will be one of the largest mixed-traffic deployments of autonomous microshuttles in the United States, solidifying Lincoln’s reputation as a community that is forward-thinking and helping to lead the state into an exciting future.

This vision is intended to lay the groundwork and outline how the initial deployment should be conducted. While it can’t answer every question, it will provide a benchmark for how the system should operate, where it could be deployed, and how it could serve the Lincoln community.