Self-driving shuttles are coming to Northern Virginia

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) -- No driver? No problem. An autonomous shuttle is heading to Virginia.

It's part of a public-private partnership between Fairfax County and Dominion Energy that aims to deploy a driverless shuttle that would operate on normal roads, next to normal cars, between the Mosaic District and the Dunn Loring Metro Station, which are about one mile apart.

The pilot project, which Fox 5 reported on back in February, got a big boost Wednesday when the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board approved a $250,000 grant to launch what would become the first ever state-funded autonomous public transportation project in the Commonwealth. Fairfax County will provide an additional $50,000.

"It's transformative," said Deputy County Executive Rachel Flynn. "As you see all the traffic that's around Fairfax, if we can get people out of their cars and to transit in a more efficient, effective way, look what that will do for our community."

Rides would be free for the public, and while the county would oversee operations, Dominion would lease or buy the vehicle.

"We want to make sure that it looks a little futuristic," explained Dominion Energy Vice President of Innovation Emil Avram, "you know not your typical van or bus, something that would catch the attention of folks and people would ask, 'hey what is that?'"

It will still be a while before members of the public can expect a ride, with Flynn estimating we're one to two years away.