Weeks after officially opening its autonomous vehicle research facility, Peachtree Corners is welcoming the public to ride on its self-driving shuttles.
The city will celebrate this new milestone for Curiosity Lab, the city-backed research center, at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Mayor Mike Mason, Councilmember Alex Wright and a representative from Local Motors, the shuttle’s manufacturer, will make remarks and explain the basics of the shuttle system. After that, it’s time to ride.
This will be the first time the general public will be able to take free rides on the two self-driving shuttles that have been running on the 1.5-mile test track.
“Our own taxpayers should have the opportunity to experience this because they’re partially paying for it,” said Brian Johnson, Peachtree Corners city manager.
The city started Curiosity Lab and technology incubator Prototype Prime with $500,000 in seed funding in 2016 and has contributed $500,000 each year since. The facility is also funded from sources including tenant rent, private investors and a recent $1.8 million federal grant.
The test track runs alongside normal vehicle traffic on Technology Parkway. The shuttles and everyday cars go in different lanes, separated by permanent cones. The two shuttles, vehicles called Olli created by Local Motors, have been running on the track since the Sept. 11 grand opening, and both the city and the vehicle manufacturer believe they’re ready for the public to ride.
In addition to developing cutting-edge technology, Curiosity Lab was intended to become an economic driver for the city, attracting more residents, visitors and jobs. Tech Park Atlanta, a large office space along the track, has increased its occupancy rate since Curiosity Lab’s opening and now houses more than 7,000 jobs, Johnson said. The facility’s partnerships with Delta, Georgia Tech, Sprint and other major players is also helping boost the local economy, Johnson said.
“Their use of it is going to put people in restaurants, hotel rooms, and shopping in our shops,” Johnson said. “That’s why we did this.”
The event will take place at Peachtree Corners City Hall, located at 310 Technology Parkway NW.
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