If you haven’t heard, Columbus is smart. Really smart!
Smart enough to drive me around the City in a driverless shuttle! That’s right, I got to take a 15 minute ride into the future. Think, more Jetson Family and less Flintstone. Columbus is the first city in the entire state to do it, so you know it’s only a matter of time before everyone’s doing it. Cbus is such a trendsetter.
I was a little nervous but mostly curious and couldn’t wait to see if Smart Circuit was as thrilling as I thought. Spoiler Alert: While the opportunities it presents are exciting, its max speed of 25MPH is not what I would describe as thrilling, but very, very safe. It’s nothing like a rollercoaster (LOL) much more COTA Bus. Smart Circuit will also do the most impressive U-turn you’ve ever seen. I can tell you Columbus residents are curious cats as well. Every time we made a stop in the shuttle (we also got out and switched shuttles) an inquring mind stopped us to ask questions. I’m going to try to answer some of those questions, but my best piece of advice, go ride it!
Smart Circuit is the first deployment self-driving shuttle technology in Ohio. Three low-speed shuttles staffed by trained operators circle the Scioto Mile seven days a week, transporting passengers to Columbus’ premier educational and leisure destinations: COSI, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, the Smart Columbus Experience Centerand Bicentennial Park. The shuttles offer Columbus residents and visitors a hands-on experience designed to educate local innovators on the capabilities and potential of autonomous vehicle technology, and inspire the community to envision how self-driving vehicles can transform our community’s future.
Smart Columbus has a vision that starts with the reinvention of mobility, which will lead us to a future beyond what anyone has yet imagined.
As the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) first-ever Smart City Challenge, Columbus was awarded $50 million in grant funding and the designation as America’s Smart City. We’re “becoming smart” by embracing the reinvention of transportation to accelerate human progress. And with it, taking on the coveted job of teaching cities as they evolve similarly around the world.
Columbus competed against 77 cities nationwide to win the Smart City Challenge in 2016. With $40 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $10 million from Vulcan, Inc., a Paul G. Allen Company, we won a very important job. To:
▶ Improve people’s quality of life
▶ Drive growth in the economy
▶ Provide better access to jobs and ladders of opportunity
▶ Become a world-class logistics leader
▶ Foster sustainability
“Transportation is not just about roads, transit and ride sharing. It’s about how people access opportunity. And how they live.” – Mayor Andrew J. Ginther
I had LOTS of questions before putting my life in the hands of NOBODY (gasp!)
Let me try to answer a few of the basics for you:
- The shuttle is FREE to ride.
- Smart Circuit services destinations along the Scioto Mile, including COSI, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Bicentennial Park and Smart Columbus Experience Center.
- The vehicle operates 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
- Shuttles will arrive at each stop approximately every 10 minutes. The full route takes approximately 15 minutes.
- Anyone can ride the shuttle! Ages under 4 need a car seat and anyone under 18 needs a legal guardian to accompany them.
- A certified attendant is always in the shuttle.
My tech savvy guys from Software Verde.
While I was asking questions like, ‘Does each car have its own personality?’ The answer is no, they’re all programmed the same. The Software Verde guys were asking hard, pressing, well informed and smart questions. I call it balance.
This initiative has contributed to Columbus being named ‘City of the Year’ by Smart Cities Dive — a leading industry news publisher recognizing the innovators transforming the industry and shaping the future.
The vehicle, which has a maximum speed of 25 MPH, has a four-seat “campfire” configuration in the rear of the vehicle as well as a 49-inch digital display that provides system and route information.
Smart Circuit shuttles operate autonomously, using a suite of sensors that deliver a 360-degree view around the vehicle. The sensors and intelligent software help the vehicle understand where it is; in which direction to steer; and when to slow down, accelerate, or stop for something in its path. Mapping allows the vehicle to know every inch of its route and navigate through various traffic conditions. The vehicle operator provides riders with information about the route and technology, and can take control of the vehicle at any time.
Spoiler Alert: The shuttle didn’t autonomously drive off a bridge with me in it!
Explore the Scioto Mile and experience autonomous vehicle technology firsthand to help our community learn about the potential this groundbreaking technology holds to transform mobility and industries in Columbus.