CAV, EV projects evaluated with TPEC support

June 21, 2023

TPEC researchers are participating in two MnDOT pilot projects of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs):

  • Bear Tracks project team
    TPEC researchers with the Bear Tracks shuttle

    Bear Tracks—a highly automated, fully electric shuttle—began service in White Bear Lake last August 2022 and wraps up in July. TPEC researchers Frank Douma and Adeel Lari, assisted by Humphrey School student Alexander Lee, are supporting public evaluation efforts.

    The pilot project aims to familiarize the public with AV technology, gather lessons learned for AV operators in all weather conditions, and provide innovative and enhanced mobility for persons with disabilities and seniors. The 11-passenger shuttle travels a 1.5-mile route at low speed, serving two senior housing developments, an adult day care service, and the White Bear Lake YMCA.

  • A pilot in Grand Rapids called goMARTI began operations in October 2022 and runs through spring 2024. TPEC researcher Frank Douma, with support from Humphrey School student Evelyn Weiner, are examining the project’s transportation challenges and stakeholder collaboration.

    goMARTI has multiple self-driving vehicles offering free on-demand rides on an extensive route that includes nearly 70 pick-up and drop-off locations. Goals of the pilot are to advance AV technology in rural, winter conditions; engage, educate, and build trust with communities; expand safe, accessible transportation; and understand the economic development impacts to the Iron Range.

    goMARTI received a $9.3 million grant this spring through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand its services, making them more reliant, convenient, and accessible to more potential users.

In addition, Douma and Fonseca-Sarmiento will help evaluate a project that is bringing 10 new EV Spot Network hubs to St. Paul’s East Side. They will leverage TPEC research that documented mobility challenges in the East Side, downtown, and Frogtown areas of St. Paul.

The EV Spot Network is a series of 70 public renewably powered, curbside EV spot-charging locations within St. Paul and Minneapolis. The City of St. Paul—in partnership with the City of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy, and HOURCAR—operates the network to support access to and use of electric vehicles. The expansion will help provide equitable access for the East side.