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Self-driving cars come to Nickel Plate District in Fishers. View the route map, start date – The Indianapolis Star


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Fishers will begin a free driverless electric car shuttle system downtown later this month.

The 6-month pilot program will take riders from near 106th Street and Lantern Road to Commercial Drive north of 116th Street beginning Dec. 20.

May Mobility will run five hybrid Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM fully electric vehicle Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with shuttles arriving every 10 to 15 minutes at nine stops.

The program is similar to one just completed at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, which provided 3,400 rides between May and November. While that pilot served largely as a “last mile” lift for students and university and hospital workers who might have used public transportation to get dropped off near campus, the Fishers cars will be more of a straight shuttle service because the city has no bus system.

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“With the launch in Fishers, we’ll be adding a new public transportation service in a community that primarily relies on personal vehicle ownership,” said Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility in a news release. “This is an amazing opportunity to partner with Fishers to challenge the status quo of transit and engage a wider audience in the future of transportation.”

The rides are a partnership among Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the City of Fishers and May Mobility, which operates the technology.

City spokeswoman Ashley Elrod said Fishers residents were expected to use the shuttles for quick trips, errands or meetings.

“People can use it to go from work to a nearby meeting or a restaurants for lunch or they could go from their apartments to work or restaurants,” she said.

Fishers downtown has expanded immensely the past five years, with more than a 1,000 apartments and houses added, new businesses and other development. The city is close to finishing construction of the Nickel Plate Trail, which officials expect to draw still more businesses and feature recreational attractions.

The shuttles will run from the Pullman Pointe and South Pointe Village apartments near 106th Street to the commercial district near the Target along Commercial Drive and Fishers Corner Boulevard.

At South Pointe Village, 25% of the 62 apartments are set aside for people with disabilities. The May Mobility wheelchair accessible vehicle has a ramp for one rider with a wheelchair.

“Our Nickel Plate Cultural District is the perfect test site for this technology as our partners identify the nuances of a suburban environment for autonomous technology,” Mayor Scott Fadness said a news release.

Though autonomous, each shuttle will have a driver serving as a back-up in the driver’s seat in case the technology doesn’t recognize something in the road and needs an assist.

Fishers is the ninth shuttle for May Mobility, which has run the service in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Arlington, Texas; Hiroshima, Japan; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Call IndyStar reporter John Tuohy at 317-444-6418. Email at john.tuohy@indystar.com and follow on Twitter and Facebook.





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