PennDOT is Assisting in Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Test

Jan. 9, 2023
The test pilot will run until spring 2023 in Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is participating in an autonomous vehicle (AV) testing in Philadelphia with the help of Drexel University researchers and AECOM.

The pilot test consists of a electric autonomous shuttle bus shutting passengers from the Philadelphia Navy Yard to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s NRG Station through the spring of 2023.

This is the first AV test since former Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation in November for AV's commercial testing and deployment.

This AV shuttle test program, which is funded by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s “Travel Options Program,” seeks to enhance access to Philadelphia’s Navy Yard while reducing traffic congestion between the Navy Yard and SEPTA’s NRG Station and minimizing carbon emissions in the region.

The AV project will support a growing community of 15,000 employees, 8 million square feet of mixed-use facilities, life sciences and institutional space, with plans to add additional office, laboratories and clean spaces, retail, restaurants and hotels, and residential buildings, parks, greenways, and amenities over the next 20 years.

Virginia-based Perrone Robotics is providing the AV test vehicle and its automated driving technology will direct the vehicle along with a back-up operator for the first phase of the project.

The program will be heavily tested prior to being fully deployed. Led by experts from PennDOT and AECOM, they will ensure he technology can improve safety and mobility on city streets and through construction zones.

Phase one of the pilot program will consist of testing, training and analyzing the shuttle’s performance in augmenting existing transportation services between key locations in the Navy Yard. Once this testing is complete in early 2023, Phase two will deploy the shuttle to connect the Navy Yard to SEPTA’s NRG Station on the Broad Street subway line, adjacent to the Sports Complex and FDR Park.

Drexel researchers will study the shuttle’s interaction with its traffic environment and collect data on the public’s perception through the first 12 months of its operation during the second phase.

“Our team will document and inform PennDOT and project stakeholders on how the AV shuttle interacts and performs under various traffic conditions, and on how riders react, interact, and produce opinions about the AV shuttle experience,” said Jonathan Spanier, department head of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics for Drexel’s College of Engineering, in a statement.


Source: AASHTO

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