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'Bear Tracks,' MnDOT's new automated shuttle project launches in White Bear Lake

"Bear Tracks" is the Minnesota Department of Transportation's second of three planned automated vehicle demonstration projects.

ST PAUL, Minn. — You may have heard of self-driving cars, but what about a self-driving shuttle bus?

In White Bear Lake, a new low-speed, electric, driverless shuttle called "Bear Tracks" will begin operation Monday.

The new operation is the "second of three planned connected and automated vehicle demonstration projects coordinated by MnDOT, and the first in the Twin Cities metro area," the department said in a news release Friday.

The shuttle will be open to the public to ride for free in different areas of the city.

KARE 11's John Croman was at the ribbon-cutting event Friday and said it was a gathering of all of the different stakeholders who helped put the project together.

MnDOT's collaborated with 11 partners on the project including groups like the city of White Bear Lake, the University of Minnesota, Newtrax, Ramsey County and others.

Croman said the people at the event were generally excited and the riders were very curious about how it will all work.

“The Bear Tracks shuttle will help students in our community envision the jobs of the future, provide an opportunity to expand mobility for residents on the designated route who may otherwise have limited transportation options, and puts White Bear Lake residents at the forefront of helping inform how this technology is integrated into Minnesota’s transportation system," White Bear Lake City Manager Lindy Crawford said.

MnDOT said they hope this project will be able to provide transportation to young adults and older people who may not currently drive.

Bear Tracks will be available to ride until August 2023, the department says.

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