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Launch of a NAVYA Autonom Shuttle Pilot Project at White Bear Lake, USA

NAVYA , an autonomous mobility systems leader, announces a new partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), AECOM, and the city of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA, to deploy the Arma Navya Autonom shuttle.

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The pilot project will offer new transportation options to the White Bear Lake community and will run for a year over a route of 1.5-miles, connecting a number of residential facilities to the community YMCA, including PAI, The Boulders and Willow Wood Apartments. The members of the community and its partners have given the shuttle the name Bear Tracks, because it offers a totally new service in area of the city which up until now didn’t benefit from shared transportation.

Navya Autonom® Shuttle is 100% electric and has multiple on-board sensors, such as the 2D and 3D Lidars, a GPS system, and an odometer, which monitor its location along the route, while detecting and observing obstacles like pedestrians and other vehicles. Being totally autonomous, it has neither steering wheel nor pedals, but an operator is always on hand to take over manual control and to assist the passengers. Moreover, Bear Track is equipped with a mobility ramp in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It will operate from Monday to Friday between 9.30 am and 1.30 pm and will be free of charge to the public.

AECOM will be the prime contractor, MnDOT will be in charge finance, and Newtrax Transportation will provide the operators once they have completed their Navya training course. The project forms part of MnDOT’s Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Strategic Plan, fostering enhanced mobility for persons with disabilities and better travel options elderly communities, while promoting public awareness of the technologies associated with automated vehicles.

The academic partnership with White Bear Lake High School and the University of Minnesota are a unique aspect of the pilot, offering the students firsthand experience with CAVs and boosting employment possibilities.

Other partners in the project are Ramsey County, Newtrax, the University of Minnesota, White Bear Lake Area Schools, the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence and the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce.

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A website will be launched this summer, providing information on the shuttle, its route, and detailing all the opportunities to view it: www.beartrackswbl.org

“We at MnDOT value opportunities to collaborate with local communities and companies like Navya, Inc. to strengthen partnerships,” said MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger. “The Bear Tracks autonomous shuttles provide safe transportation options for White Bear Lake community members, particularly some of our more vulnerable residents. The demonstration project also provides invaluable information that can move Minnesota forward in its goal of safe, equitable transportation for all in our state”.

Daryl Taavola, vice president with AECOM’s U.S. West Transportation: “We’re incredibly proud to partner with MnDOT and White Bear Lake to launch this groundbreaking project, which not only advances emerging automation technologies but uniquely integrates transit accessibility and equity as a main focus. This pilot will serve as a tangible example that helps the public understand and interact with the benefits of these vehicles while providing the community with a free, safe, and sustainable transportation option.”

Mayor of White Bear Lake commented: “We are really excited to expose our community to autonomous vehicle technology and demonstrate how CAV can be integrated into a typical small urban community. We believe autonomous vehicles can be the future of mobility for those in need, and we plan to show the effectiveness of these technologies with this project. We hope to get all WBL residents who have never experienced self-driving technology to come and experience this new safe and sustainable transportation option.”

Sophie Desormière, CEO of Navya: “We are delighted to work with MnDOT, AECOM and the city of White Bear Lake on their first AV project. By joining our forces we will be able to provide a mobility solution to a large number of residents for whom no form of shared transportation has hitherto been available. Our shuttles are not only examples of emerging transportation technology, but also provide a concrete response to the community’s mobility needs by connecting people and enabling them to access services and activities. The Minnesota use case will also provide additional data on the shuttle’s operation during a wide range of weather conditions throughout the one-year pilot.”

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