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Pioneering autonomous shuttle to begin service at Doraville development this spring

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Atlanta’s first driverless vehicle service will ferry passengers between Assembly Yards and nearby MARTA stop

a picture of the autonomous shuttle
NAVYA was chosen as the preferred autonomous vehicle brand for Doraville’s Assembly Yards development.
Images: The Integral Group

One day, people taking advantage of the relaxed open-container policies at Doraville’s Assembly Yards mixed-use development will be able to catch a ride to MARTA without having to make small talk with a rideshare or taxi driver—and without having to stumble there.

Last spring, Assembly developer The Integral Group started the search for a firm to bring a new robotic ride that would ferry patrons of the 165-acre live-work-play complex to and from the adjacent Doraville MARTA Station.

Integral officials announced Monday they’ve tapped autonomous vehicle operator NAVYA to provide the community with the “first autonomous shuttle in a transit-oriented mixed-use development,” according to a press release.

It’s also the first autonomous shuttle service in the Atlanta region, officials said.

Unique provider of last-mile connectivity.

NAVYA’s clean energy vehicle is expected to arrive this spring, capable of carrying up to 15 people at a time, including one employee.

“The vehicle will have a steward until the reliability is verified,” said Integral spokeswoman Britni Johnson.

In addition to being the first autonomous shuttle system servicing a transit-oriented development, Integral’s new vehicle will be the first driverless shuttle in the region, according to the release.

The shuttle will run the Assembly Yards-MARTA circuit in 15-minute intervals, and it will be totally free for guests, residents, and employees, officials said.

The under-development, multi-phased Assembly project—a revival of the former General Motors plant—is slated to one day have 120,000 square feet of entertainment and retail space, some 10 million square feet of office space, hundreds of housing units, and three miles of multi-use path.

The film studio Third Rail Studios was completed in the first phase and a new 250,000-square-foot Serta Simmons Bedding headquarters is expected to open this month. An additional 1.3 million square feet of space is anticipated to deliver over the next 22 months, officials said.

In related automated vehicle news, another DeKalb County corridor could be getting its own driverless shuttle in the not-too-distant future, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Interiors of a shuttle bound for Doraville.

Today, the Chamblee City Council is supposed to vote on legislation that would allow the city to request a federal grant to help fund a few autonomous shuttles, which would cart people from the Peachtree Station shopping center to the Chamblee MARTA Station and Chamblee City Hall, the paper reported.

If that pilot program succeeds, new routes, such as ones linking to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and Assembly Yards, would be added.

Chamblee’s system—to the chagrin of some urbanists—would also have an employee onboard “at all times,” according to the AJC.

This story was updated on March 19, 2019 at 11:44 a.m., after an Integral spokesperson responded to Curbed Atlanta’s question about the cost of using the shuttle.