PANYNJ tests driverless AV shuttle, platooned commuter buses

PANYNJ tests driverless AV shuttle, platooned commuter buses Image credit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has launched a month-long pilot project that features an all-electric driverless shuttle van in operation at Newark Liberty International Airport. The pilot project marks the first time an autonomous vehicle (AV) is operating on public roads in the state of New Jersey.

The pilot project is being conducted in partnership with STV and Perrone Robotics, which responded to an agency solicitation earlier in the year to address last-mile transit challenges.

PANYNJ continues to test emerging technology to improve efficiency, reliability and safety across its facilities. Last summer, the Authority tested autonomous technology on platooned commuter buses through the Lincoln Tunnel’s Exclusive Bus Lane to improve speed, efficiency and reliability. 

The AV pilot at Newark Liberty International Airport is being conducted through the PANYNJ's innovation hub, a new collaborative initiative for employees from across departments to test cutting-edge products or technology. The Newark pilot is the latest iteration of other AV tests at the agency’s airports, two of which had focused on the safe use of autonomous platooned vehicles on closed roads at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2022 and earlier in 2023.

For the pilot, a 14-passenger Green Power AV-Star shuttle was retrofitted with autonomous driving technology from Perrone Robotics, including sensors, cameras and mapping functionalities. It was first tested on a safety course that included simulated car and pedestrian obstacles within a closed parking lot at the airport. It then moved to nighttime testing on airport roads between the airport’s P2 Air Train/parking facility and the new Terminal A, where it navigated arrival roadways, complex merges and multiple traffic lights. The shuttle was also tested in mixed traffic during daytime hours.

Throughout the testing period, the shuttle did not pick up passengers and always traveled at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour and a safety driver on board. In preparation for the pilot, PANYNJ approved a mandated safety plan from all firms involved that focused on safety features, the responsibility of the on-board safety driver and on operational coordination among the pilot project team, the autonomous shuttle company, and the airport.

The pilot project was organized in conjunction with the New Jersey governor’s office, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, with additional involvement from New Jersey Transit, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and local municipalities, including Newark and Jersey City.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey