The city of Austin’s airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), is conducting a new six-month pilot program in autonomous transportation technology. The airport’s ‘Easy Mile EZ10’ electric, driver-less, and ADA-compliant shuttle is available to transport passengers between the Barbara Jordan Terminal and the Rental Car Facility/Ground Transportation, which is also the location for the airport’s ground transportation pick-up area for taxis and ride-app services. Other route options may potentially be explored in further testing.
The shuttle seats six with additional room for standing passengers and has a built-in automated electric access ramp for wheelchair accessibility. While the vehicle itself operates autonomously, an airport employee is present to assist travelers and for safety purposes during the pilot program. The shuttle is supervised by a fully trained operator from a remote control center, who uses a real-time data stream to monitor the autonomous vehicle, and ensure communication with passengers.
EasyMile SAS, based in Toulouse, France, developed the EZ10 with the help of CityMobil2 project co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for research and technological development (FP7). It is battery-powered with an electric range of up to 14 hours.
“Adding a green energy, mobility solution to the airport benefits both travelers and the environment and is just one of the steps AUS is taking to meet the City of Austin’s Strategic Direction 2023 Health & Environment outcome,” airport authorities stated.
Austin Strategic Direction 2023, which was adopted by the City Council in March of 2018, serves as a guideline for the next three to five years. The plan includes six priority Strategic Outcomes:
- Economic Opportunity and Affordability;
- Health and Environment;
- Culture and Lifelong Learning; and,
- Government That Works for All.