Austin-Bergstrom tests free-to-use autonomous shuttle

Getting to and from the main terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is going high-tech. The airport is testing out a driver-less electric shuttle.

“The ride itself is free for travelers and this is just another way to assist them to their destination,” Austin-Bergstrom spokesperson Bryce Dubee said.

One of the first things passengers are going to notice when they step inside this vehicle is no driver, and on top of that no steering wheel, just six seats and a place for people to stand. According to Dubee, the airport is testing the waters on what this technology can do and if it can benefit the airport.

“Right now, it is in a limited space," Dubee said. "We are just moving across one space on the upper level of the garage."

At this point, the shuttle only buses people to and from the main terminal to the car rental-ride share area. This route is normally done on foot and could take a while to walk to especially when carrying luggage.

“The vehicle currently operates in four-hour shifts in the morning and in the afternoons during some of our heavier travel times at the airport,” said Dubee.

As this is new tech for the airport, there will be an attendant on board during this beginning period.

“(They will) assist travelers coming through the airport and of course for safety and monitoring as well,” said Dubee.

Dubee said the shuttle is built so just about anyone can ride it.

“The vehicle is ADA compliant, it does have a mechanized vehicle chair ramp to assist travelers who may need that additional mobility assistance to getting to the rental car or ride share pick up areas,” said Dubee.

As the terminal is using 100 percent renewable electricity, Dubee said they are constantly looking for green options as the airport continues to expand. If this shuttle does well during this six-month lease period, the airport may pursue other avenues where they can use this same technology.