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Yellowstone to debut automated shuttles

POWELL (WNE) — Visitors to Yellowstone National Park may be able to catch a glimpse of a rare kind of … vehicle this summer.

As part of a new, first-of-its-kind pilot program, the National Park Service will test out new automated shuttles in the Canyon Village area from late May through the end of August. The two driverless vehicles will operate at low speeds and stay within the Canyon area — only shuttling people from campgrounds and hotels to restaurants and visitor centers.

The slow-moving electric vehicles will not be operating entirely on their own, either. As a Yellowstone webpage explains, “Each shuttle will have its own onboard attendant who will monitor safety and can take over the shuttle operation at any time.”

Park officials and contractor Beep, Inc., are also conducting weeks of onsite testing and safety checks before opening the shuttles to visitors.

“A successful pilot needs to ensure that safety comes first,” says a Yellowstone webpage dedicated to the program. “We will be able to measure and mitigate this in real time as we actively monitor all shuttle activity and environmental conditions.”

The Park Service says it will be collecting data on ridership, speed, stop times, how often the attendants have to override the vehicle and more.

The two shuttles delivered to Canyon Village on Monday have been decked out with park-themed imagery bearing the moniker T.E.D.D.Y. — shorthand for “The Electric Driverless Demonstration in Yellowstone.”