Transportation

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8:00 AM-4:30 PM M-F

703-877-5600
TTY 711

4050 Legato Road, Suite 400
Fairfax, VA 22033

Tom Biesiadny,
Director

Autonomous Electric Shuttle Pilot Project

Project Background

The goal of the pilot is for Fairfax County and Dominion Energy to learn about the various aspects of deploying autonomous vehicles as part of a large public transportation system. Fairfax County aims to be at the forefront of innovation by testing this smart technology for economic and environmental benefits, operational efficiencies, and as a first- and last-mile travel option connecting people from transit centers to employment, activity centers and residential communities.

As part of its strategic plan to grow and diversify the economy, Fairfax County continues to encourage innovation and testing of smart technologies to help expand existing business sectors, spark new business growth, nurture the innovation ecosystem, and strengthen partnerships with technology experts, researchers, educational institutions and policy makers.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is committed to ensuring Virginia is on the forefront of new mobility innovations, including the deployment of autonomous transit. DRPT is providing demonstration funds to offset the cost of operations and is evaluating how shuttles can provide critical first and last mile connections to transit.

Dominion Energy is committed to being a driver of change and supporting innovative projects that will both improve the environment and meet the needs of customers and the public. Electric vehicles, including autonomous electric shuttles, will play a major role in a lower-emissions transportation future in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the nation, and these innovative technologies will help Dominion Energy’s customers embrace environmental stewardship.

Next Steps

We’ve selected EasyMile as the shuttle vendor for this project. EasyMile’s EZ10 model, which will be used for this project, is currently deployed on public and private roads in more than 25 countries on 4 continents.

When will I be able to ride the shuttle?

We are working to determine an official start date. The county is currently working on determining the shuttle’s exact route, arranging for thorough safety reviews and seeking necessary permits to operate it.

What’s the shuttle’s route and how will the route be selected?

The shuttle is planned to travel between the Dunn Loring Metrorail Station and Mosaic in Merrifield. However, the exact route and stops haven’t been determined yet. The route will need to be refined based on several factors, including requirements from the shuttle’s manufacturer, safety reviews and traffic conditions.

Will the shuttle be free to ride?

Yes! We’re able to offer free service due to a state grant and partnership with Dominion Energy which is providing the shuttle.

Do I need a ticket or pass to ride?

No — just get on and go!

Can anyone can ride the shuttle, including children?

Yes.

Who will operate the shuttle?

Fairfax County is responsible for overseeing the shuttle operations, and now is in the process of choosing the operating company.

What kind of self-driving shuttle will be used?

Following a RFP process conducted by Dominion Energy, EasyMile’s EZ10 model has been selected for the pilot. The EZ10 is currently deployed on public and private roads in more than 25 countries on 4 continents.

  • EasyMile’s EZ10 model:
    • has a proven track record of over 200 deployments
    • holds up to 12 passengers
    • features a full set of sensors, including Lidars, cameras, and GPS to ensure safety
    • features a built-in, automated electric wheelchair access ramp

What are the safety features of the shuttle?

Safety is a top priority for this test. The shuttle also will undergo extensive testing before entering passenger service. The county will get a full transportation safety audit by the state, and if needed will seek a safety review and approval from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Finally, in the event of an emergency a safety steward will always be on board the shuttle, and this person will be able to shift to a manual operation if necessary.

How will the shuttle benefit the community/environment?

The shuttle will serve as a “first- and last-mile” connection between Metrorail and an award-winning mixed-use development, providing a convenient, environmentally friendly transit option for shoppers, visitors, and businesses. Since the shuttle is both autonomous and electric, it also helps commuters reduce their environmental impact and play a role in a lower-emissions transportation future.

What is the purpose of testing an autonomous electric shuttle?

We are looking to learn more about how this technology can be safely and effectively used in the future to offer additional mobility solutions, to help familiarize people with new transportation technologies, and to encourage environmentally friendly transportation solutions.

How is this pilot being funded?

This pilot is a public-private partnership, and local, state and private money will pay for this demonstration project. Fairfax County received a $250,000 state grant that includes a $50,000 in county matching funds. Dominion Energy is providing the shuttle and related charging infrastructure.

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