As the Salt Lake Tribune reported, “Utah could become the first state to fully legalize driverless, autonomous vehicles anywhere on the state’s roads under a bill that cleared its first hurdle Wednesday.”
This is great news for our autonomous vehicle initiative for Arches National Park. I have been in talks with the major players in the autonomous public transportation space — including Keolis, Local Motors, May Mobility and Waymo (the Google self-driving car project) — and what is very attractive for them is that Arches National Park presents a unique opportunity to deploy their new autonomous electric mini-shuttles in a controlled environment: the road network within Arches.
Our goal is to present the National Park Service with a comprehensive transportation solution for Arches National Park that can be executed as a public-private concessionaire partnership in 2020. The plan proposes a swarm of autonomous mini-shuttles with a capacity of 12 passengers each, so visitors arrive at each stop in small groups to avoid crowding. Three of the four companies are now testing vehicles in this capacity range.
It won’t cost the NPS a penny, in fact, a properly structured public-private concessionaire partnership agreement should generate profits for Arches National Park which can then be used to create the necessary stops and shade structures along the mini-shuttle route.
A key to our proposal is the construction of a 2,000-car parking lot at the UMTRA site, the cornerstone of the new Arches National Park visitor’s center and transportation hub, because visitors need to park somewhere first before they board the mini-shuttles. This new hub will also support shuttle services to downtown Moab, to the mountain biking trails, to rafting trips and to the airport.
Arches for the People Initiative