MnDOT launches automated shuttle pilot in White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Posted: 11 August 2022 | | No comments yet

In addition to advancing automated vehicle technologies, the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s pilot project will help improve access to transportation options for White Bear Lake’s residents.

MnDOT Minnesota Department of Transportation

Credit: Minnesota Department of Transportation

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has announced that it has launched an autonomous shuttle pilot in the City of White Bear Lake, moving the State of Minnesota forward in its goal of providing safe and accessible transportation options for its residents.

As part of the pilot project, a low-speed, driverless, electric, multi-passenger shuttle called Bear Tracks is now available for free, public rides in parts of the city. While the shuttle is self-driving, there will always be an attendant on-board to verify safe operation of the vehicle and aid passengers as needed. Bear Tracks is the second of three planned connected and automated vehicle demonstration projects co-ordinated by MnDOT, and the first in the Twin Cities metro area.

The project is a collaboration of multiple partners, including MnDOT’s Office of Connected and Automated Vehicles, the City of White Bear Lake, AECOM, Newtrax, Navya, University of Minnesota, Ramsey County, White Bear Lake Area Schools, White Bear Area YMCA, White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence.

Enhancing public transport using autonomous vehicle technology

“Partnership projects like Bear Tracks help us better understand how innovative technologies can improve our transportation system as well as improving equity, accessibility and choice for Minnesotans,” said MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger. “Community engagement and collaboration with local partners is vital to these projects, and we look forward to hearing about resident’s experience with the Bear Tracks shuttle.”

“We are proud to be a partner in bringing this innovative pilot to our community,” said White Bear Lake City Manager Lindy Crawford. “The Bear Tracks shuttle will help students in our community envision the jobs of the future, provide an opportunity to expand mobility for residents on the designated route who may otherwise have limited transportation options, and puts White Bear Lake residents at the forefront of helping inform how this technology is integrated into Minnesota’s transportation system.”

During the project, MnDOT and its partners hope to:

  • Gather data and user-experience information to inform future use of this technology
  • Engage and educate the public by providing real world automated vehicle experience
  • Identify infrastructure gaps and solutions to safely operate automated vehicles on public roadways
  • Provide transportation options for the public, including young adults and elderly who may not currently drive
  • Advance the operation of automated vehicle technology in year-round weather conditions
  • Provide an enhanced transportation experience and increase mobility in a high demand downtown urban environment.