Buckle up. Yellowstone National Park Is Testing Out Driverless Shuttles. Buckle up. Yellowstone National Park is launching tests of electric vehicles that can operate without drivers. They unveiled two eight-passenger, cube-shaped vehicles that will be used at Canyon Village. The program is called “TEDDY” or The Electronic Driverless Demonstration in Yellowstone.
As part of the test TEDDY program, park officials explained the vehicles will navigate the parking lot there to provide visitors with free and quick rides to nearby lodging and campsites. The program launched June 9 will run through August 31 but could become permanent. Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement, “As visitation continues increasing in Yellowstone, we are looking at a range of visitor management actions that focus on protecting resources, improving the visitor experience, and reducing congestion, noise and pollution. Shuttles will unquestionably play a key role in helping achieve these goals in many of the busiest areas of the park.”
Yellowstone has seen over 658,000 visitors this year. If the trend continues officials predict the park may break tourism records and host 4.7 million visitors this year, according to Billings Gazette. At this rate vehicular demand for the park is expected to exceed current capacity by 2023. The TEDDY shuttles are one way of trying to combat that problem without disturbing the park.
Similar vehicles have also been tested in Maryland, Italy, and Berlin. I can absolutely see the need for shuttles and making the park accessible without personal vehicles. I don’t know that I would trust a driverless vehicle in any scenario. But driverless shuttles at Yellowstone I’m definitely not sure about. The fact that animals and tourists could easily walk in front of them scares me as well. I’ve been to Yellowstone and seen Elk, Buffalo, etc just walk right out in the road and even the parking lots.
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