Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

March 21, 2018

Automated vehicle demonstration at Rochester’s Peace Plaza on March 22

ROCHESTER, Minn. – An automated vehicle being tested by the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be giving public demonstration rides in Rochester on Thursday through an effort by Rochester Public Transit and Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency.

The EZ10, a driverless electric vehicle, will be at the Peace Plaza in Rochester on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide the public and local officials a chance to experience this technology firsthand.

Members of the public will be able to visit the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester to take a short trip on the vehicle along the plaza. Representatives from MnDOT and vehicle operator First Transit will be on hand to share their experiences and to answer questions.

MnDOT began testing the use of an automated shuttle bus in 2017 at MnROAD, MnDOT’s pavement research facility near Albertville, Minn. Testing included how the bus operated in snow and ice conditions, at low temperatures and on roads where salt is used.

The bus recently provided rides at the Minnesota State Capitol, at 3M Global Headquarters, and to 1,300 people on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis during Super Bowl 52 week.

As a state, Minnesota is preparing for future transportation that could include automated and connected vehicles.

On March 7, Governor Mark Dayton issued an executive order to establish a 15-member advisory council to study the opportunities that widespread adoption of automated and connected vehicles could bring to Minnesota.

Governor Dayton said the new Advisory Council will help ensure that Minnesota is well-positioned to put this technology to work for the best interests of Minnesotans. MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle and Christopher Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, are co-chairmen of the group.

“Minnesota offers unique climate and regulatory challenges different from other states currently testing these technologies,” said Zelle. “Benefits of automated vehicle technology include safer roads, reduced congestion, improved fuel efficiency and reduced energy consumption. And, the increased presence of automated vehicles will also mean greater mobility for many in society who are now challenged with transportation.”

The council will consist of 15 appointees with relevant experience in finance, transit, higher education, workforce training, insurance, automotive industry, advocacy, freight, labor and public safety.

Automated vehicles were among the many transit technologies examined recently by the City of Rochester and DMC-EDA in a series of integrated transportation studies. The preliminary findings from those studies are being shared this week with the Rochester City Council and the Destination Medical Center Corporation Board of Directors.