The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $7.5 million grant to support three autonomous vehicle demonstration projects as part of an Automated Driving System pilot program in the East Bay, according to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.
Two of the projects will focus on helping the elderly and differently abled.
Those include a "shared autonomous vehicle" project to provide first-mile and last-mile access to public transit for the elderly in Walnut Creek as well as a wheelchair-accessible and on-demand autonomous shuttle to transport people to and from medical facilities in Martinez.
Data gathered from both projects will be used to develop performance and safety measures, according to the CCTA.
Countywide, they'll also be installing vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology along the Interstate Highway 680 corridor to facilitate the use of "connected autonomous vehicles" in highway traffic.
"The ADS program is based on the actual needs and concerns of the community searching for solutions to mobility challenges," CCTA Executive Director Randell Iwasaki said in a statement Wednesday. "We need to integrate advanced technologies, innovative solutions, new partnerships and creative ideas to support the next generation of mobility."
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is a public agency that oversees transportation efforts and manages the county's transportation sales tax. More information is available online.