The Brooklyn Navy Yard is the first area in New York City to get driverless cars.
Starting Wednesday, the driverless cars will begin shuttling people around the Navy Yard, free of charge.
The cars will run seven days a week to meet passengers coming from and going to the new Ferry landing. The cars will run from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day, according to a press release.
“The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s mission is to serve as a hub of urban innovation and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the experiences of our tenants and visitors,” said David Ehrenberg, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. “We are excited to bring the future of transportation to New York with Optimus Ride, and provide the 10,000 employees across the Yard and the Brooklyn community with greater access to convenient mobility.”
The Optimus Ride launch comes as the Brooklyn Navy Yard undergoes a $1 billion expansion, its largest since WWII. The project will increase the Yard’s job total to 20,000 from its current 10,000 by the end of 2021, ushering in an increased need for transportation.
The cars that will be making the mile-long loops are six electric Polaris vehicles. They will have a sign that indicates that they are self-driving. The cars will be operated by Optimus Ride, which has been around since 2015. According to a press release, the vehicles are expected to transport 500 passengers a day, and 16,000 per month.
Since Optimus Ride was founded, the company has given over 20,000 autonomous rides, in the Boston area. Although the cars drive themselves as a safety precaution, each vehicle has a team of two to assist if anything goes wrong.
Dr. Ryan Chin, CEO, and co-founder of Optimus Ride said in a press release, “Launching our self-driving vehicle system in New York at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is yet another validation that not only is Optimus Ride’s system a safe, efficient means of transportation, but also that autonomous vehicles can solve real-world problems in structured environments – today. In addition, our system will provide access to and experience with autonomy for thousands of people, helping to increase acceptance and confidence of this new technology, which helps move the overall industry forward.”
NY Times reported that no injuries or accidents have occurred at this time within one of their cars. Still ,some are wary of the technology. The Times reported that last year a woman was killed by a self-driving car and three Tesla drivers using their “auto-pilot” systems, and died as a result.
Another common issue with the self-driving cars is that they rely on gas and are not the most environmentally friendly travel option, which is a growing concern among consumers.