Fairfax County and Dominion Energy are partnering on an autonomous electric shuttle pilot - Technical.ly DC

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Jun. 21, 2019 12:31 pm

Fairfax County and Dominion Energy are partnering on an autonomous electric shuttle pilot

The pair received a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, making it the first state-funded autonomous public transportation demonstration project in Virginia.

Autonomous vehicles are coming to Virignia.

(Photo by Pixabay user, Free-Photos, used under a Creative Commons license)

Fairfax County is partnering with Richmond, Va.-based power and energy company Dominion Energy on an autonomous electric shuttle pilot.

The pair announced their partnership earlier this week, with a goal to test how autonomous vehicles can affect large public transportation in Virginia. This is one of the first few ways Virginia is breaking into the driverless tech realm, as Optimus Ride also announced that it is bringing self-driving cars to Reston, Va., this summer.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation awarded Fairfax County and Dominion with a $250,000 grant to kickstart the pilot. With the support of the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, this pilot makes the first state-funded autonomous public transportation demonstration project in Virginia, a press release states. Fairfax County is providing a $50,000 local match to the department’s grant.

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The county and Dominion are currently looking for manufacturers to build the shuttle, Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s media rep Robin Geiger told Technical.ly. She said it could take “several months to a year” to conceptualize, build, test and ensure the perfect route for the pilot program.

The news release said the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will meet next week to discuss a formal partnership between Dominion and the county. If approved, Dominion would lease or buy the autonomous shuttle, while the county will run point on the operations.

The Virginia Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will test the shuttle for safety reviews prior to the pilot’s deployment. Once the pilot launches, the autonomous shuttle will run through Fairfax County’s Merrifield area.

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