Autonomous Shuttle Research Expanding Onto Public Roads

After extensive review, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) granted Robotic Research a Highly-Automated Vehicle (HAV) permit for Olli, an autonomous electric shuttle that is driven by Robotic Research’s AutoDrive technology.

The HAV permit for Olli will allow for continuation of research and testing of autonomous vehicle capabilities and technology on a half-mile stretch of public roadway between two office locations in Montgomery County. This will be the second deployment of Olli in Maryland, but the first in Montgomery County. Olli can carry up to 8 passengers at a time and has a maximum range of 33 miles, with a maximum speed of 25 mph.

From Business Wire:

“We are extremely pleased to have such great support from the state of Maryland and Montgomery County to help advance our research in autonomous vehicle development,” said Alberto Lacaze, president of Robotic Research. “This is a great step forward for innovation in the state of Maryland, and is a great example of the kind of leadership in technology the state is committed to supporting in the private sector.”

Although Olli is an autonomous vehicle, a safety attendant will be on board at all times to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

From Robotic Research:

In addition to MDOT and Robotic Research, agency leaders from Montgomery County government, law enforcement, fire/EMS, and transportation/public works extensively reviewed the permit request, discussed safety issues (the vehicle, site, proposed route, traffic impacts on area, etc.), and implemented appropriate restrictions/limitations to the HAV permit. The HAV permit was approved with contingencies for:

  1. Proper signage indicating an automated vehicle testing zone;
  2. Vehicle marking indicating a slow-moving vehicle;
  3. Testing limited to 10am-3pm;
  4. Monthly reporting including safety data and community feedback received;
  5. Community notification, including the distribution of an informational flyer providing a contact phone number and email address, in the immediate area along the route.

Olli will operate Monday through Friday, making an average of 5 rounds per trip, until February 28, 2020 when Montgomery County will re-evaluate the HAV program.