‘This is our future’: Fairfax tests region’s first self-driving shuttle for public transit

The Washington region is about to experience self-driving vehicles in public transportation.

Fairfax County and Dominion Energy are testing an autonomous electric shuttle that could be carrying passengers between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and the county’s eclectic Mosaic District as early as this fall.

Called Relay, the 13-foot-long blue bus will trek a mile-long route without a driver aboard. The vehicle, which has no steering wheel or pedals, is equipped with sensors programmed to keep it on a predefined route and to spot and avoid any obstacles in its way, officials said…

During the year-long pilot, officials and scholars from various Virginia universities will closely monitor and study the operation, looking at ridership, rider demographics and any problems or concerns. Project officials already anticipate effects from the coronavirus pandemic, as people are generally traveling less and are less likely to be using public transit.