Automated Shuttle Pilot

Automated shuttle parked in front of Canyon Lodge
T.E.D.D.Y. in front of Canyon Lodge

NPS / Jacob W. Frank

“We’re very pleased to participate in this shuttle pilot and test this evolving technology,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “As visitation continues increasing in Yellowstone, we are looking at a range of visitor management actions that focus on protecting resources, improving the visitor experience, and reducing congestion, noise and pollution. Shuttles will unquestionably play a key role in helping achieve these goals in many of the busiest areas of the park.”

During summer 2021, Yellowstone National Park launched TEDDY, The Electric Driverless Demonstration in Yellowstone at Canyon Village! Visitors were able to ride one of two low-speed, electric, automated shuttles free of charge within the Canyon Village campground, visitor services, and adjoining visitor lodging area. The goal of this pilot was to understand how automated vehicle shuttle technology can be used in parks and how visitors perceive and engage these services. The data from this pilot will help guide long-term management decisions regarding transportation in national parks.

 
Two maps showing the two routes of TEDDY
Important: June 9–July 12, 2021, the shuttles will run the hotel to visitor services route. July 13 is a changeover day, meaning no service. July 14–August 31, 2021, the shuttles will run between the campground and visitor services. 

Shuttle Route Information

Dates in 2021 Route Stops Times
June 9–July 12 Visitor Services
Moran Lodge
Washburn Lodge
7:00 am–10:00 am
12:30 pm–3:30 pm
6:00 pm–9:00 pm
July 14–August 31 Visitor Services
Amphitheater & Campground Services
Middle Campground
Upper Campground
7:00 am–10:00 am
12:30 pm–3:30 pm
6:00 pm–9:00 pm

COVID-19 Mitigations

All passengers were required to wear a mask while on board the shuttle. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer pumps were available for onboard use. Shuttle attendants were required to:

  • Wear a mask when on board
  • Undergo a temperature check prior to the start of a shift
  • Keep shuttle doors open at a stop when no passengers are onboard
  • Wipe down seats and seatbelts after each use/trip leg utilizing the supplies onboard
  • Perform a full disinfection of the vehicle at the end of the day

If a shuttle attendant were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, a shuttle would immediately be taken out of service and decontaminated by a third-party cleaning contractor prior to the shuttle going back into service. Beep continuously monitored the number of COVID-19 cases and adapted to the current environment to provide enhanced cleaning, sanitizing, and COVID-19 safety protocols that aligned with federal, state, and local health guidance.

Safety

  • Visitor and employee safety, as well as overall safe vehicle operation, was paramount.
  • Each shuttle had its own on-board attendant who monitored safety and could take over the shuttle operation at any time.
  • NPS and Beep initiated several weeks of testing onsite prior to our launch, which could have led to adjustments by Beep and the NPS as needed to ensure safety.
  • A Risk Management Plan was used to train park staff and first responders to address issues that could arise during the pilot.

Questions & Answers

In June 2020, the NPS put out a request for quotes to industry for operating AV shuttles in Yellowstone during summer 2021. Following a virtual industry day and 45-day window for vendor responses, the NPS, working alongside the Department of Transportation, selected Beep, Inc. They met all the requirements in the project scope and we are excited to be working with them on this project.
In 2019, Yellowstone was the sixth-most visited national park in the United States with over 4 million visits. Due to its remoteness and popularity, the NPS selected Yellowstone to explore opportunities to advance our goals related to emerging mobility and better plan for the future of transportation.
There were several weeks of testing onsite prior to the launch, which could have led to necessary adjustments as applicable to ensure safety. A robust plan was used to train all parkwide first responders on operations that could arise during the pilot. Beep Inc. was required to regularly report all data tied to ridership, departure times, route performance, and battery performance to the NPS. Similarly, they were required to report any crashes or near crashes immediately to our law enforcement officers as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Before any work began, Beep Inc. ensured they had insurance to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Wyoming covering each vehicle and its operator. Insurance was required at all times during the life of the contract.
The NPS is part of the Federal Lands Transportation Program working in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to deliver transportation improvements across the US. Recently, the FHWA developed innovation and research opportunities to fund projects within federal lands, like Yellowstone. Part of that funding was used for this project to support the contract and to support technical aspects needed on the project from start to finish.
A successful pilot needs to ensure that safety comes first. We will be able to measure and mitigate this in real time as we actively monitor all shuttle activity and environmental conditions. A primary goal of this project is to understand how this technology operates in parks, so we will be collecting data throughout the pilot about ridership, speeds, stop times, attendant overrides, and much more. We also want to be transparent and provide information to visitors to help them understand how to use the shuttles and give them opportunities to provide feedback on their experience. We’ll use that feedback to inform next steps and overall considerations of emerging transportation technologies. Lastly, we will be looking at the limitations and opportunities that exist to inform future policy and regulatory needs. Once the pilot is complete, and we can gather all the data, we’ll be able to address this more holistically.
This pilot will be used to help inform considerations for emerging technologies like this throughout the park system and give us a better sense of what’s needed. If successful, we may consider using this technology in the future as we examine how alternative transit systems can be used in Yellowstone to improve visitor access and experience.
 
 

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

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