Greenville, US is piloting AVs
Greenville is located in the Upstate region of South Carolina, which has become a major global hub for auto manufacturing. BMW operates its largest plant worldwide there, employing some 8,000 workers. Two-thirds of the plant’s output is exported. Volvo and Mercedes are also setting up operations in the Palmetto State. Clemson University’s 250-acre International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), located in Greenville, was established in 2003 and hopes to become a major center for autonomous vehicle research and development.
That dream took a big step forward in October 2017, with the awarding of a $4 million federal grant to Greenville County, which recently released one of the most detailed studies of a regional AV-based transit system. The federal grant will fund three phases of development for a pilot network that begins to realize this vision. Phase 0 tests will link the CU-ICAR campus and the nearby Center for Manufacturing Innovation (part of Greenville Technical College), employing self-driving electric carts developed by Robotic Research, a Maryland-based firm that supplies autonomous software to the U.S. Army. This route will be extended to other nearby locations including “Hubbell Lighting, TD Regional Banking Center, an apartment complex, two hotels, a restaurant and the Whole Foods shopping center.” Phase 1 will expand the test to Verdae, a master planned residential community using 2 to 6 larger, custom-manufactured AVs. Verdae has committed $1 million to build a mobility center linking the AV service to other modes of transport. Phase 2, slated to begin in late 2018, seeks to extend tests to ‘nationally significant problems’ including non-emergency medical transportation and first/last mile in a low-density, low-income neighborhood.