TA staff speaking with participants about the Treasure Island Autonomous Shuttle Pilot

In July, San Francisco welcomed attendees from around the world to the 2023 Transportation Research Board’s Automated Road Transportation Symposium, an international autonomous vehicle industry conference that builds on the 2012-2020 Automated Vehicle Symposia and the 2021-2022 Automated Road Transportation Symposia. Participants from industry, government and academia shared current research and development updates, engineering progress, and field deployment results.

The event was held at a time when San Francisco has become a locus of AV technology deployment and featured robust discussions about the progress, challenges, and opportunities around advancing automated road and vehicle technologies. 

Conference Highlights

The conference featured several keynote talks, including remarks by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator Ann Carlson and US. Department of Transportation officials Vinn White (Senior Advisor for Innovation) and Dr. Robert Hampshire (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology), among others. 

Staff from the Municipal Transportation Agency and Transportation Authority also spoke on various topics and panels which addressed San Francisco’s real-world experience with AVs, the readiness of cities for automated road technologies, the development of a national AV framework and federal, state, and local policies addressing AV deployment, and the role AVs could play in new development projects.  

Other session topics during the week spanned discussions of data, evaluation and safety standards, traffic management for highly automated vehicles, and workforce development. 

Acting as the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency, the Transportation Authority is addressing many of these areas through our Treasure Island Autonomous Shuttle Pilot Project, known as the “Loop”. Funded by grants from the US DOT, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Transportation Authority, the pilot will demonstrate service on public roads, and provide a better understanding of the operational needs of a shared AV shuttle service and insights for long-term shuttle shuttle service on the Island.  

The goals of the autonomous shuttle pilot are:

  • Safety: Understand the public safety implications of an AV shuttle.
  • Mobility: Understand if/how AV shuttle technology can support mobility on Treasure Island. 
  • Operations: Understand organizational and infrastructure needs to operate an AV shuttle.
  • Research: Gather insights from the public and AV technology during pilot and share lessons learned. 

In support of the pilot, there will be ongoing efforts to engage with the community to collect feedback. Staff will also work to establish partnerships to support local workforce, labor, and businesses throughout the pilot period. 

The Loop service launched on August 16 and will provide service for nine months, from late summer 2023 through spring 2024. The shuttle service will have an attendant on board at all times, is ADA accessible, and uses fully electric vehicles.