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Transportation

Reno's Road to the Future of Autonomous Buses

Electric bus company Proterra is teaming up with the University of Nevada, Reno, to see how cities can communicate with driverless public transit.
Proterra buses in Reno, Nevada, are getting outfitted with sensors to help researchers study autonomous public transit.
Proterra buses in Reno, Nevada, are getting outfitted with sensors to help researchers study autonomous public transit.Proterra

Ride along Virginia Street in Reno, Nevada, you’ll cross through many different parts of the city. There’s the more rural landscape in the north, and as you head south, you’ll hit increasing foot and bike traffic near the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), before reaching heavy traffic downtown. That variance makes the road a perfect testing ground for autonomous buses.

That’s why, earlier this year, electric bus maker Proterra began quietly using Virginia Street as as a living lab for the next big innovation in public transit. Since January, the company has been working with Reno’s transportation agency and engineers, roboticists, and AI experts at UNR’s Living Lab Coalition to collect data on how to integrate autonomous public transit into cities—starting with the bus. The partnership was announced Tuesday at a green tech conference in New Orleans.