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Yellowstone National Park to pilot automated shuttle program

October 23, 2020 GMT

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Park officials have said a shuttle program using automated electric vehicles is expected to launch at Yellowstone National Park next year.

Beep Inc. Shuttles is expected to pilot the program in the Canyon Village area from late May through next August, shuttling visitors in driverless, electric, low-speed vehicles to determined stops near the campground, commercial buildings and lodging areas, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

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“Yellowstone and the National Park Service are proactively engaging with emerging transportation technologies by looking for ways to test, pilot and learn from these capabilities,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said Wednesday. “We will continue exploring possible ways to reduce congestion and to improve visitor experience and access in heavily traveled areas of the park.”

The Orlando, Florida-based company billed as the “next generation of passenger mobility” has been awarded federal transportation grants to develop and deploy its technology.

Its driverless vehicles currently operate in Florida around the Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville and at the 17-square-mile (44-square-kilometer) Lake Nona planned development where the vehicles run four different routes, company officials said.

Park officials are also planning to launch a transit feasibility study next summer to weigh the opportunities, risks and costs of local shuttles at Old Faithful and Canyon Village. Results are expected in 2022.

Park visitation has increased by about 40% over the past dozen years, stretching its infrastructures capacity, officials said.