Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park, Washington, USA. (Eric Baker/Shutterstock.com)

Park Service eyes autonomous shuttles

The National Park Service is looking at running automated vehicles in selected sites in the continental U.S.

To better understand how emerging AV shuttle technologies could offer new options for park visitors, NPS issued a sources sought notice asking small businesses for information on the required infrastructure,  costs and benefits.

In tests lasting two to three months in two to three national parks, NPS expects to deploy automated shuttles transporting up to six passengers at a time. The hope is that the AV shuttles could enhance visitor experience by expanding mobility options and facilitating new opportunities for interpretation. The demonstrations would also provide a use case for AV shuttles in rural and remote areas and in recreational settings. NPS also hopes to identify unforeseen regulatory, organizational or legal barriers to emerging mobility technologies.

NPS has been exploring alternative transportation options to help manage congestion, ease parking shortages and connect with local communities in addition to reducing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Last May, the agency conducted a study with the University of California Sol Price School of Public Policy on the potential opportunities and challenges of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies in national parks.

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