Jul 25, 2023 - Transit

Cumberland begins test drive of autonomous shuttles

A brightly colored 8-person autonomous shuttle with "Welcome aboard" and "hopper" on the side

Look at that lil' fella. Photo: Courtesy of the Cumberland Community Improvement District

Cumberland officials are expanding their vision for a less car-driven future with a driverless shuttle.

What's happening: Starting Tuesday, a driverless shuttle dubbed "The Cumberland Hopper" starts service around the auto-oriented office, retail and growing residential area.

  • The free shuttle is an 8-month pilot program run by the Cumberland Community Improvement District. Officials want to test the technology's effectiveness in reducing car usage and better connecting people to the area.

By the numbers: 84,000 people work in the district, arguably the pioneer of metro Atlanta's "edge city" development boom. And more than 30,000 people live there, Kim Menefee, the CID's executive director, told Axios.

Details: The shuttles are a partnership with autonomous vehicle company Beep. They will operate a route in the Galleria Office Park and back-and-forth on the bridge between the Galleria and The Battery Atlanta over I-285.

  • The shuttles hum along at up to 15 mph and are outfitted with sensors to detect other vehicles, pedestrians and obstacles.
  • Operating hours vary but officials do expect the Hopper will operate during some home Braves games.

What they're saying: "Most of the people moving to Cumberland are millennials and Gen Xers and they don't necessarily want to own a car," Menefee told Axios. "And it's not easy to get around Cumberland if you don't have one."

  • "Whether you work or you visit or you live in the district. We want to be able to really bring our community together."

What's next: The shuttle is part of the Cumberland Sweep, a 3-mile loop around the area that will include paved trails and an autonomous vehicle.

  • That follows previous initiatives like a bike-share and trail network with connections to the Chattahoochee River.

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