PALM DESERT, Calif. - A driverless electric shuttle showcased at a Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) conference in Palm Desert Thursday could be part of the future of public transportation in the region. The vehicle was on display for various city leaders to receive a ride and get a picture of how it worked.
Developers from Easy Mile explained that the 13 foot long vehicle was to fill the gap in short distance transportation such as taking someone from their home to a major transportation hub at any time.
"They would be able to operate without a driver on board, and will be able to operate on demand," Guillaume Drieux, a developer said.
The vehicle has already launched in places such as France and the Netherlands. Drieux said that it could be possible for the vehicle to be deployed in the Coachella Valley despite the heat, as the vehicle had been tested in various climates.
"In Northern Europe for Winter conditions...in Dubai for summer and hot weather conditions...," he said.
Desert Hot Springs Council Member Russell Betts, rode on the vehicle and had good reviews on the vehicle.
"You know as the kids say..hastag impressed. It's a really really really nice experience," he said.
Councilman Betts said the vehicle could help improve public transit in DHS and could be an option for the city if it was affordable.
"Mobility for residents, obviously," he said. "If you can set it up on a planned route to where they can go around the city and provide local transportation...that's what i immediately saw."
Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem and SCAG President Michele Martinez, also hitched a ride and believed the driverless vehicle could encourage more people to take public transportation.
"If we were to roll a hundred of these out in various parts of the community, I guarantee that people would be in line in wanting to see what its like," she said.
Drieux said they have orders coming in from Europe to the U.S. and would have a commercial version of the vehicle ready by October or November.