MnDOT launches self-driving shuttle pilot in Grand Rapids

Residents of one northern Minnesota town now have another transportation option.

Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation launched goMARTI, a self-driving shuttle, in Grand Rapids.

Riders can schedule a free, on-demand ride on the shuttle by downloading an app made by Via and booking a ride or by calling 211.

While the shuttles are considered self-driving, MnDOT says there will always be an operator on board to verify the safety of the operation and help passengers as needed.

“MnDOT continues its commitment to collaborate with local communities and valued partners to find innovative ways to provide safe, accessible transportation options for all Minnesotans,” MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger said. “The goMARTI demonstration project will provide great insight on how the technology stands up in rural Minnesota winter conditions.”

The shuttle is part of an 18-month pilot program through a partnership between MnDOT, Grand Rapids, Itasca County, the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, PLUM Catalyst, Via, the University of Minnesota, Arrowhead Regional Development Commission and Mobility Mania.

MnDOT says the project aims to:

  • Inform and advance the operation of automated vehicle technology in rural, winter conditions.
  • Engage and educate community members by providing real-world automated vehicle experiences.
  • Provide safe, accessible mobility for residents, especially those with transportation challenges.
  • Understand what economic development the pilot brings while attracting future talent and technology to the Iron Range.

The shuttle will cover almost 17 square miles in Grand Rapids and features around 70 pickup and drop-off points. It will operate from 2-10 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1- p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.