Self-driving vehicles are increasing in popularity as a way to reduce carbon emissions while making transportation more efficient in congested areas. However, the technology is still evolving, and fatal crashes, including one last year that left a Tempe woman dead after she was struck by a self-driving Uber while crossing the street, have caused some to question whether the shift is happening too quickly.
Fairfax officials said that the new shuttle buses would undergo extensive safety testing before any passengers are allowed on board. When the service is running, a “safety steward” will always be on board, ready to shift the bus into manual operation if necessary, county officials said.
The pilot project will be funded by a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and $50,000 from Fairfax County. Dominion will procure the vehicles and coordinate training for their operation.