SAN RAMON (KPIX 5) -- California officials have approved the first driverless automated shuttle for testing on public streets at Bishop Ranch Business Park in San Ramon.
While the Easy Mile EZ10 autonomous shuttles aren't big or fast and still aren't quite available for public use just yet, the vehicles have made a major breakthrough in becoming the first automated vehicles intended for public transportation to get a license for testing in California.
"We want to test them on public streets for people to get accustomed to that technology and get people familiar with that technology," explained Rany Iwasaki, the Executive Director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.
When they walk inside, passengers will find six seats, but they won't see a place for a driver or a steering wheel. There are buttons that allow passengers to open and close the doors and a display screen that shows
The battery-powered, driverless mini buses will roam Bishop Ranch, the 600-acre business park in San Ramon, picking up employees as part of a pilot program.
Alex Mehran, the CEO of San Ramon-based Sunset Development, told KPIX 5 it took two years to get to this point.
"You are looking at the future. There's no question about that," said Mehran. "But this is the first opportunity since Henry Ford rolled off for us to create a new metric for public mobility."
Mehran says San Ramon residents could be seeing the buses pick up people as soon as mid-2018. It will be a major milestone for bishop ranch and a baby step into the future of automated transportation.
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