Yellowstone National Park Will Test Driverless Shuttles
In May, the National Park Service will launch a pilot at Yellowstone National Park to test low-speed, automated vehicle (AV) shuttle technology within the Canyon Village campground, visitor services, and adjoining visitor lodging area.
On Monday, two AV shuttles arrived in Yellowstone. Teams will spend the next month training, mapping, and preparing for their launch on May 24. The data from this pilot will help guide long-term management decisions regarding transportation in national parks.
The goal is to understand how AV shuttle technology can be used in parks and how visitors perceive and engage these services. The data from the pilot will help guide long-term management decisions regarding transportation in national parks.
In June 2020, the NPS put out a request for quotes to the industry for operating AV shuttles in Yellowstone during summer 2021. Following a virtual industry day and a 45-day window for vendor responses, the NPS, working alongside the Department of Transportation, selected Beep, Inc. They met all the requirements in the project scope and we are excited to be working with them on this project.
In 2019, Yellowstone was the sixth-most visited national park in the United States with over 4 million visits. Due to its remoteness and popularity, the NPS selected Yellowstone to explore opportunities related to emerging mobility and a better plan for the future of transportation.
May 24 - July 12, the shuttle will run the hotel to visitor services route. July 13 is a changeover day, meaning no service. July 14 - August 31, the shuttle will run between the campground and visitor services.
YNP officials say that there will be several weeks of testing onsite prior to the launch, which could lead to necessary adjustments as applicable to ensure safety. There's also a plan to train all park-wide first responders on operations that come up during the pilot.
Beep Inc. is required to regularly report all data tied to ridership, departure times, route performance, and battery performance to the NPS. They're also required to report any crashes or near-crashes immediately to law enforcement officers as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If the pilot is successful, YNP may consider using this technology in the future as it examines how alternative transit systems can be used in Yellowstone to improve visitor access and experience.
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