First Self-driving vehicle to launch in VA

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FAIRFAX COUNTY, V.a (WDVM) — A Self-operating vehicle that has been in the works for over a year finally launched today.

The 12 passenger vehicle, named Relay, took its circuit around the Mosaic District for the first time today.

Dominion Energy partnered with Fairfax County to generate Virginia’s first driverless vehicle with the goal of minimizing emissions, improving traffic flow, and helping the public get to metro stations.

“Today transportation is the number one contributor to greenhouse gasses and Dominion is committed to being a driver of change to reduce emissions” said Julie Manzari, innovation strategist at Dominion Energy.

In addition to environmental effects, Manzari said the number one cause of accidents are due to human error. Autonomous vehicles significantly reduce the chances of error.

“It can see 360 degrees around the vehicle. So as something is approaching too close to it, it begins to slow down and it’s noticing how an obstacle might be approaching it, and if it gets too close, it will outright shut itself down at an emergency stop” said Dionysi Damaskopoulos, engineer for Easy Mile.

He said Relay will map the area over the next couple of weeks so that it’s predetermined path is set. The vehicle will be moving slowly at two miles per hour through testing, but once Relay is able to carry passengers, it will travel around ten to twelve miles per hour.

“It’s a big deal. If this works, and we think it will, it will address what we call the first and last mile” said Rachel Flynn, deputy county executive of Fairfax County. This is when residents live slightly too far from metro stations to walk or bike, so they decide to take their car.

Flynn emphasized that the goal is to use the transit system and ultimately take more cars off the road to help with traffic.

Relay will be free to riders and circuit from Dunn Loring to the Mosaic District.

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