Residents and workers in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York and Paradise Valley Estates in California will soon be able to ride in self-driving vehicles, courtesy of Optimus Ride. The Boston-based startup will deploy its Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) in the second quarter of 2019.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a 300-acre industrial park with more than 400 businesses and 9,000 employees who will have access to the autonomous shuttles. The vehicles will be contained within the private development’s defined, geofenced areas, and will provide a loop shuttle service connecting NYC Ferry passengers to Flushing Avenue outside the Yard’s perimeter. At Paradise Valley Estates, an 80-acre, nonprofit Life Plan Community in Fairfield, California, prospective residents will be able to take self-driving tours of the estates and residents will have full access to the vehicles and on-demand rides within the community.
While Optimus touts the service at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as “the first commercial self-driving vehicle program in the state of New York,” The Verge pointed out several other autonomous demos from the likes of Audi and Cadillac, approved of by the state DMV. In general, New York is reluctant to endorse autonomous driving and has some of the strictest regulations for self-driving cars in the United States, such as requiring a police escort which must be paid for by the company. Of course the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Paradise Valley Estates are both private and do not require DMV approval.
Having already deployed its autonomous driving services in Boston, Massachusetts and Reston, Virginia, the two new programs will make four US states in which Optimus Ride is operating. Dr. Ryan Chin, CEO and co-founder of Optimus Ride, expressed his excitement at the expansion in a press release and said, “… having now announced three deployments in the first quarter of 2019, are well positioned as the leader in self-driving systems for geofenced areas.” Thanks to the startup’s partnership with Brookfield Properties, we can probably expect to see more programs pop up at additional Brookfield developments.