Atlanta aerotropolis seeks to test automated buses to international terminal

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Aerotropolis and transit officials are seeking a grant to bring automated battery-electric buses to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport area.

The Aerotropolis Atlanta community improvement districts, MARTA and the Atlanta-based Center for Transportation and the Environment are proposing the demonstration project and seeking a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The proposal is for automated buses to travel between MARTA's College Park station and the airport's international terminal -- and also serve the headquarters of Delta Air Lines. If they win the grant and the project moves forward, the service would be open to employees, passengers, commuters and residents.

Source: CTE

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The DOT is awarding up to $60 million in federal funding for automated driving system demonstration projects "to test the safe integration of automated driving systems into the Nation's on-road transportation system." Each grant would be for up to $10 million.

The Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs say they are also partnering with Hartsfield-Jackson, Georgia Power, bus manufacturer New Flyer of America Inc. and others on the proposal.

The automated driving system technology would "complement the skills of well-trained human operators," according to a press release. The buses would charge overnight at a depot.

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“It would represent the first automated airport passenger transportation on public roads anywhere in the world,” according to the announcement.

The concept is part of an effort previously reported by the AJC to improve transit in the airport area, including connectivity to the international terminal.

The Atlanta City Council passed a resolution last month in support of the grant application, saying it is committed to pursuing “smart transit solutions.”