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Detroit to launch autonomous shuttle service for older and disabled residents

City of Detroit

Next week, Detroit will debut an autonomous vehicle shuttle service for older and disabled residents.

The first phase of the “Accessibili-D” project will serve a portion of the city’s southeast side. It will offer both scheduled and on-demand rides, with a route serving 68 stops.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he hopes this is just the beginning. He wants to expand the service to other residents who find it hard to use traditional transit, and make Detroit the first major Midwestern city to offer autonomous vehicle services.

“This is going to be the first step, by providing mobility to the people who need it most, while at the same time protecting safety and keeping Detroit at the forefront of the future of transportation and mobility,” Duggan said.

Duggan said for the time being, a safety operator will be present in all the autonomous vehicles, to help get passengers on and off, and deal with any other safety issues that may arise.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, who is blind, said that for the disabled community, this is about more than just getting a ride.

“It's going to give us the thing that we long for. It's going to give us the thing that we pray for,” Bernstein said. “It's going to give us our freedom.”

The city plans to launch a second phase of the project on Detroit’s near west side later this summer. Residents who are interested in using the service must fill out an expression of interest form.More information about the program can be found on the city’s Accessibili-D website.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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