CALSTART Launches Effort for Autonomous, Zero-Emission Transit Vehicles


CALSTART is launching a project to explore new automated vehicle technologies aimed at boosting transit ridership, cutting traffic and congestion, and reducing emissions.

The project’s ultimate goal is to support the development of a next-generation zero-emission autonomous transit vehicle.

CALSTART, a clean transportation accelerator with offices and member companies across the nation, will establish a coalition of at least 10 transit agencies to inform the process. The agencies – of varying sizes and complexities representing diverse communities – will be asked to provide strategic guidance to develop specifications for the vehicle. Agencies will create a wish list of attributes to meet their performance and funding needs.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with leading transit properties and identify how vehicle automation could be used to actually increase transit ridership and reduce the number of cars on the road. We also want to work with our member companies to be global leaders in this technology,” says John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART.

CALSTART has tapped Matthew Lesh to lead the effort under CALSTART’s Connected and Automated Transportation Users Forum. The CALSTART team will develop specifications for a vehicle with the following criteria:

  • Battery all-electric or hydrogen-powered;
  • Autonomous to at least Level 4 SAE;
  • Buy America- and ADA-compliant;
  • Designed to meet all climate conditions; and
  • Designed to ensure customer comfort for all.

Lesh co-created the Federal Transit Administration Mobility on Demand Program. He has led efforts for the Michigan Mobility Challenge, Local Motors’ Olli, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Accessible Technology Transportation Research Initiative, the Federal Transit Administration Veteran’s Transportation Community Living Initiative, and others. He currently serves as vice chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Automated Transit Systems Committee and is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Transit agencies interested in learning more about the project are encouraged to contact CALSTART.

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