Beep Beep! Automated TEDDY Shuttles Arrive in Yellowstone
Written by Andrew-Rossi on April 20, 2021
The automated shuttles will start rolling around Canyon Village as a prelude for future visitor services and more self-driving vehicles in the national parks.
This week, two automated vehicles arrived in Yellowstone. These shuttles will start circling through areas around Canyon Village as part of a trial that could have big implications for the future of the National Park Service.
The Yellowstone program has been dubbed T.E.D.D.Y. – The Electric Driverless Demonstration in Yellowstone.
Automated vehicles in the park were announced last fall. It’s part of a trial program to see if the NPS can integrate these vehicles into park settings to enhance the visitor experience.
Park officials specifically chose Canyon Village for visitor safety.
In Yellowstone, the long-term goal is to reduce the congestion and volume of traffic on Yellowstone’s roads. During the peak months in the park, the roads at the park’s most popular places are often well above their capacity, sometimes as high as 29%.
Following a specific schedule, the shuttles will start operating on May 24. They will remain in operation until August 31.
At first, the shuttles will run between the Visitor Services building and out to the Washburn and Moran Lodges. In mid-July, the route will change to take visitors to the amphitheater and surrounding campgrounds.
The shuttles will not go outside of the populated areas of the park. Also, they won’t go on any roads leading to any scenic locations or park hotspots.
There are other points NPS officials want the public to know:
- There will be an operator on board at all times who can take control at any time.
- They are not operating on Grand Loop Road.
- They are operating at a low speed.
- Capacity is limited to six passengers.
The success of the Yellowstone shuttles could determine the future of automated vehicles in national parks throughout the nation.
According to park officials, “the data from this pilot will help guide long-term management decisions regarding transportation in national parks.” Wright Brothers National Memorial is also experimenting with the shuttle system this summer.
The various partners involved with the pilot program will be examining system locations, routes, stops, fleet requirements, business models, ridership, and costs. This study will conclude in 2022 and determine the park’s feasibility in maintaining its own transit system at the park’s major attractions.
There are specific safety and COVID-19 protocols in place for the Yellowstone shuttles. You can examine them on the Yellowstone National Park website.