The pilot project team will test this driverless, public transportation option to evaluate its effectiveness and safety and see how it can be used as a “first and last-mile” transit option to “relay” riders and help connect the community, activate neighborhoods and attract businesses.
This pilot project is a partnership between Fairfax County, Dominion Energy, EDENS (Mosaic), The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and George Mason University (GMU).
Relay's software is programmed to follow a prerecorded path. It relies on several sensors (localization lasers, GPS, odometry and cameras) to navigate and orient in the environment and follow a predefined network of routes.
Relay has various sensors and detection lasers installed all around the vehicle. The sensors and lasers help detect obstacles in several zones around the vehicle and determine the distance that separates them from the shuttle. The sensors and detection lasers are sensitive so it’s important that other vehicles do not travel or pass Relay at close distances. Drivers should keep at least ten feet between their vehicles and Relay.
Relay's sensors and lasers are constantly scanning the area around the vehicle. The software considers the vehicle’s path and determines the vehicle’s proper reaction to detected obstacles including vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians. In response to the environment the vehicle may slow or come to a complete stop to avoid incident. Emergency stops in response to an unexpected obstacles may be abrupt and passengers must remain seated and wear a seatbelt at all times for safety.
Relay operates at a maximum speed of 10 mph.
The vehicle uses a combination of GPS signal, Lidar (laser detection technology) and predefined route programing to determine its location.
Relay is outfitted with 3D lidar up to 262 feet and 2D Lidar up to 131 feet. Additionally, the localization Lidar instruments can scan up to 492 feet.
These cameras are used to aid in remote supervision of the vehicle.
Four 48V lithium-ion batteries; and one 12V battery.
Relay can typically operate for 10-14 hours on a single charge. The variance depends on the specific power utilization from heat, air conditioning of other similar factors. It takes Relay's battery 6-8 hours to return to full charge.
Relay weighs 4,409 pounds.
Relay can hold 12 passengers or 2,200 pounds with 6 seated and 6 standing.
Due to the pandemic, service will be limited to 4 people - including the safety steward - with social distancing rules in effect.
Yes. Fail-safe brakes can be automatically activated to stop the vehicle even when there is no power, or when the vehicle is stationary.
Motorists following Relay should stay back at least ten feet. Do not use bike lanes or cross double yellow lines to pass Relay. Relay should only be passed when legal to do so. Drivers should pass Relay with care and enough space ONLY when a full lane is available.
As always, motorists should stay attentive and drive safely as they would when driving around any other vehicle on the road. Relay’s maximum speed is 10 miles per hour.
Yes we encourage you to come out and take a ride on Relay. We have a ramp to get into the vehicle and we have restraints for any wheel chair or scooter that is required
At this time there will always be a Safety Operator on board Relay. There are expected to be passengers with ADA needs that the Safety Operator can assist with. The Safety Operator will always be present to make sure all passengers are safe.
Yes, your privacy is being protected. These cameras are on board to learn more about the movement of the vehicle and how passengers, pedestrians and other motorists interact with the vehicle.
Relay will operate in light to moderate weather. Heavy rain and snow does become a problem for Relay. Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will determine the operating status based on the severity of the weather. FCDOT will share operating status on this web page on inclement weather days.
Yes, if Relay is having any issues, a regular vehicle will serve the route on Relay’s regular schedule between the Dunn Loring Metrorail station and the Mosaic District.
Safety is a top priority for this project, and keeping our employees and passengers safe requires constant diligence. Our strategies and actions include:
• All Transdev Safety Operators aboard our autonomous vehicles are required to wear masks and other protective personal equipment.
• We require passengers wear masks or other facial coverings to board our vehicles
• Safety Operators are provided with personal health and safety cleaning kits to spot-clean high-touch areas on the vehicles, such as the seatbelts and handrails.
• Limiting vehicle occupancy for 4 passengers to ensure room for proper social distancing
Passengers and employees can trust that our vehicles are cleaned and disinfected thoroughly for our shared safety. Our strategies and actions include:
• Overnight deep cleaning and disinfection of all vehicles, following a master checklist.
• Interim spot cleaning and disinfecting vehicles during the day.
• The safety attendant also wipes down the common touch areas with disinfectant to ensure employee and passenger safety.
Fairfax County and Dominion Energy hope to learn about the various aspects of deploying autonomous electric 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.
The shuttle operates Monday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Relay travels between the Mosaic District and the Dunn Loring Metrorail Station along Merrifield Cinema Drive, Merrifield Town Center Drive, Eskridge Road, Merrilee Drive and Avenier Place. Signage has been installed along the route.
Yes! We are able to offer free service due to a DRPT grant and partnership with Dominion Energy, which is providing the shuttle.
No — just get on and go!
Fairfax County is responsible for overseeing the shuttle operations, and has chosen TransDev to manage the technology, maintain the vehicle, provide the safety attendants and oversee the vehicle and overall service.
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:
Safety is a top priority for this test.
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.
Some reasons we are testing the autonomous electric shuttle in Fairfax County are:
This pilot is a public-private partnership. Local, state and private money will pay for this demonstration project. Fairfax County received a $250,000 DPRT grant that includes $50,000 in county matching funds. Dominion Energy is providing the shuttle and related charging infrastructure.
12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035