Beverly Hills Ready To Ride Robot Cars

Beverly Hills Ready To Ride Robot Cars
High Tech Hits Road: Vehicle outfitted for autonomous driving at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Beverly Hills is looking to lead the way in adopting autonomous vehicles.

City officials have applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for Beverly Hills to become a testing ground for AV, the latest in a series of moves to put the well-heeled community on the cutting edge of the technology. Mayor John Mirisch, 53, said Beverly Hills’ well-kept streets, mix of residential and commercial corridors as well as hills and flatlands in a compact 5.7 square miles make it the perfect place for AV makers.

“We’re a city that is driven by technology but we also have the perfect infrastructure,” Mirisch said last week.

As autonomous vehicles become mainstream, they could alleviate traffic, might lead to more development in commercial zones, and will become an important link after the new Purple Line subway station opens in 2023, he said.

Beverly Hills officials envision shared driverless vehicles taking residents and visitors to and from the subway.

“We’re really excited about the idea of using (AV) as a form of public transportation, a kind of shuttle system,” said Mirisch, who said the city wouldn’t be able to afford buses otherwise.

If selected by the Transportation Department, the city would need to get a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which hasn’t approved the use of AVs on public streets. Mirisch said he would seek help from the AV industry, perhaps in the form of a public-private partnership, to fund some of the city’s endeavors.

The DMV is crafting AV equipment, safety, and performance standards for public roads, as directed by the state Legislature.

A local public workshop to get feedback on the draft regulations is scheduled for Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Carmel Room of the Junipero Serra State Office Building, 320 W. Fourth St., downtown.

– Paul Eakins

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