Self-Driving Vehicles Will Be Deployed in the District

  • October 22nd 2018

by Nena Perry-Brown

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The District has escaped the wave of autonomous vehicle (AV) pilot programs thus far — but that will change next year.

As reported by The Washington Post, Ford plans to deploy a fleet of driverless vehicles in DC in 2019. The cars will be utilized for deliveries and to ferry around customers, upping the ante from the autonomous delivery robots that debuted in the city two years ago. Last week, the first of Ford's autonomous vehicles took a cruise in Northeast DC, heading past Gallaudet University and through the Starburst intersection.

The aforementioned car, a Ford Fusion, was outfitted with nine cameras and two lidars (laser-beam measuring tools) in order to collect data the car will use to navigate. The Fusion was operated manually by specialists from self-driving startup Argo AI, a company in which Ford has invested $1 billion. 

Ford will create an "AV Terminal" in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood to house the computer servers and give drivers a break room. The fleet could encompass hundreds or thousands of vehicles, including trucks and vans, and will partner with some local businesses on delivery pilots.

There currently is no federal regulatory structure governing autonomous vehicles; DC law requires all autonomous cars have a backup driver present, although this may change by the time Ford's vehicles hit the streets. The city also initiated a pilot program earlier this year to bring autonomous shuttles to L'Enfant Plaza. 

Ford will also begin making its autonomous vehicles commercially available in DC, Miami (where their AVs are already operating), and other cities in 2021. 

See other articles related to: autonomous vehicles

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/autonomous-vehicles-will-soon-be-deployed-in-the-district/14599.

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