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Atlanta’s first driverless shuttle system is bound for Doraville’s Assembly project

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The region’s largest transit-oriented project aims to pioneer another method of mobility

A rendering of the The yards facet at Doraville’s massive mixed-use Assembly.
Assembly’s rising The Yards facet, with Third Rail Studios now operating for TV and film production next door.
Renderings courtesy of The Integral Group

A shuttle-bus system without drivers is bound for metro Atlanta.

Echoing existing services in places like Las Vegas, California, and Paris, the Atlanta region’s first autonomous shuttle will launch at Doraville’s massive Assembly project early next year, developers The Integral Group announced today.

Assembly, the redevelopment of Doraville’s former General Motors plant, will operate a driver-free shuttle along a designated pathway “using cutting-edge guidance and detection systems.” Each clean-energy vehicle will be able to tote about 12 people between Assembly’s The Yards district and the Doraville MARTA Station in 15-minute intervals, officials said.

“We’re eager to be a pioneer of this new technology,” said Matt Samuelson, COO of Integral’s commercial real estate division, in a press release. The developer bills Assembly as metro Atlanta’s “largest, most sustainable transit-oriented development.”

Exactly who will operate the driverless system should be known within a few weeks.

Intergral is in talks with several potential operators—including French companies Navya and Easy Mile, and U.S.-based Local Motors—whose vehicles rely on tech-driven tools such as GPS, radar, cameras, and laser rangefinders. A few months ago, Navya launched the first U.S. driverless shuttle for public use in Las Vegas.

New Navya shuttles at work in Las Vegas.
Navya

The north ITP city recently made news for being passed over when reps scouting sites for Amazon’s HQ2 mega-build swept through Atlanta last month.

Assembly had long been considered among the mix of metro Atlanta sites in HQ2 contention, which span from the airport to the transit-connected suburb of Dunwoody, but officials confirmed the HQ2 courtship did not include a Doraville stop.

Otherwise, Assembly has been on a roll, gaining momentum with a large corporate signing (Serta Simmons Bedding), operational movie studios (Third Rail), and some $300 million in investment announced last year.

In the release, Integral Group officials said the 250,000-square-foot Serta Simmons headquarters is expected to top out this week and open in February.

Another 1.3 million square feet of Assembly space is expected to deliver within the next two years. Eventual plans are mini-city massive, calling for roughly 10 million square feet of multifamily housing, creative offices, dining, retail, and entertainment.

Other innovative facets at Assembly, per developers, will include “unusually high priority” for pedestrians and cyclists with curbless streets and a two-mile, reclaimed rail network that will morph into a bikeable green space.

In other transportation news, the Georgia Department of Transportation has acquired necessary right-of-way at Assembly for a managed toll-lane interchange, linked to the Doraville MARTA Station, that will operate with regional buses (BRT) and MARTA to create what developers call “an unprecedented regional multimodal connection,” per Integral officials.