Optimus Ride, a leading self-driving vehicle technology company, today announced the launch of New York state’s first self-driving vehicle program, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Yard), a 300-acre industrial park with more than 400 manufacturing businesses and 10,000 employees onsite. Beginning tomorrow, six autonomous vehicles will transport passengers between the NYC Ferry stop at Dock 72 and the Yards’ Cumberland Gate at Flushing Avenue, a vital connection point in a truly multi-modal commute for thousands of passengers and a first-of-its-kind commercial autonomous driving system.
Dr. Ryan Chin, CEO and co-founder of Optimus Ride, said: “Launching our self-driving vehicle system in New York at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is yet another validation that not only is Optimus Ride’s system a safe, efficient means of transportation, but also that autonomous vehicles can solve real-world problems in structured environments – today. In addition, our system will provide access to and experience with autonomy for thousands of people, helping to increase acceptance and confidence of this new technology, which helps move the overall industry forward. We’re thrilled to work with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation to make history in the city and the state.”
Beginning tomorrow, a total of six Optimus Ride autonomous vehicles will transport an expected 500 passengers per day and more than 16,000 passengers per month. Initially, there will be a safety driver and software operator in the vehicle while in operation. The system will run on a continuous loop between 7:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. on weekdays between the dock and the Cumberland Gate. On weekends the system will run between the dock and Building 77 during those same time periods.
David Ehrenberg, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, added: “The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s mission is to serve as a hub of urban innovation and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the experiences of our tenants and visitors. We are excited to bring the future of transportation to New York with Optimus Ride, and provide the 10,000 employees across the Yard and the Brooklyn community with greater access to convenient mobility.”
Having deployed its technology in several Boston-area locations and successfully completed over 20,000 trips since the company’s launch in 2015, Optimus Ride’s system aims to provide a safe, efficient means of mobility in areas where there is a lack of options. Optimus Ride also has agreements to deploy in three other U.S. states: at Brookfield’s Halley Rise in Reston, Va.; Paradise Valley Estates in Fairfield, Calif., and the Raymond Flynn Marine Industrial Park and Seaport District in Boston, Mass.
The Optimus Ride launch comes as the Yard undergoes a $1 billion expansion, its largest since WWII. The current expansion, which will increase the Yard’s job total to 20,000 from its current 10,000 by the end of 2021, includes the recently completed renovation of Building 77 to provide space to vertically-integrated design and manufacturing companies and the ground-floor food manufacturing hub; Dock 72, a new creative office building developed by Rudin Development, Boston Properties and WeWork opening Fall 2019; Admiral’s Row, which will include a light manufacturing and creative office building developed by Steiner NYC and a Wegmans supermarket; the Green Manufacturing Center, which houses New Lab; and an expanded Steiner Studios, the largest film and television production studio outside Hollywood in the United States.
Finally, BNYDC recently announced a $2.5 billion master plan to create 10,000 additional jobs housed in vertical manufacturing buildings, which would bring the total number of jobs at the Yard to 30,000 in the coming decades. The plan centers around three underused development sites within the Yard and would include the ground-up development of vertical manufacturing space along with public realm and accessibility improvements. The plan also envisions a Navy Yard more integrated within the local community, and improved wayfinding, lighting, and streetscapes to make the Yard more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
John Powers, Executive Vice President, New York Region, Boston Properties, said, “The addition of Optimus Ride’s autonomous vehicles to the Navy Yard’s connectivity options is yet another example of the cutting-edge advancements constantly being made here at the Yard. Optimus Ride will provide a significant benefit to thousands of workers, and we are thrilled to welcome them to Dock 72 and the Navy Yard community.”
Michael Rudin, Partner, Rudin Development added, “We decided to invest in Dock 72 at the Navy Yard because of the unparalleled focus on innovation and access to forward-thinking transit options. Optimus Ride will be another great way for our tenants to get around the campus, and another reason why more and more creative professionals are increasingly looking to come to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”