Denver’s Amazon bid included this futuristic, driverless shuttle

Two pages on a driverless shuttle were tucked inside documents the Denver Office of Economic Development sent to state highlighting why Amazon.com Inc. should pick the Mile High City,

The EZ10, a driverless and electric shuttle that can transport up to 12 people. (Courtesy of city of Denver)
The EZ10, a driverless and electric shuttle that can transport up to 12 people. (Courtesy of city of Denver)
The EZ10, a driverless and electric shuttle that can transport up to 12 people. (Courtesy of city of Denver)

Denver officials highlighted at least one high-tech option that could help get people around should Amazon decide to plop 50,000 employees in the city as part its new North American headquarters rollout.

Two pages on a driverless shuttle were tucked inside documents the Denver Office of Economic Development sent to state highlighting why Amazon.com Inc. should pick the Mile High City, according to records obtained by Denverite. The maker of the EZ10 shuttles, EasyMile, recently opened its own North American headquarters in Denver and said it plans within the next year to start using its autonomous vehicle near Denver International Airport.

Denver sent the documents on EZ10 to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. to include in the one proposal Colorado put forth for Amazon HQ2. Because the proposal has been kept from the public, it’s unclear if the regional business organization included the information.

City officials were not highlighting EZ10 to pitch Amazon on using the shuttle, said Turid Nagel-Casebolt, director of business development at Denver Office of Economic Development.

“Basically, we just submitted it as part of the information we were asked about on sustainability programs and initiatives. … We included that simply as an example of sustainability in action from a private sector partner,” Nagel-Casebolt said.

Amazon announced Sept. 7 that it’s looking for where to build its second headquarters or HQ2. The facility would employ as many as 50,000 people — which would put it on par with the town of Parker in terms of size — and bring more than $5 billion in construction and operations investments. Amazon plans to develop the facility with “a dedication to sustainability,” according to the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth.

Lauren Isaac, director of business initiatives for EasyMile, said she could see Amazon taking advantage of EZ10s if it ended up picking Denver.

“It could be that it’s a circulator shuttle and helps people within the campus get from building to building. It could also be the vehicles take people from the campus to other forms of transportation,” she said.

Within the next year, EasyMile plans to use a shuttle to get people between Tower Road and the 61st and Peña transit station, Isaac said.

Isaac said she is “not at liberty to say” what organizations are working with the company on the project, but more details will likely be released in coming weeks.

The tech company out of Toulouse, France, announced this summer that it was moving in with Panasonic near Peña Boulevard and Denver International Airport. Isaac said she started working at the site a couple weeks ago and a grand opening for the office is planned for December.

Globally, EasyMile put more than 50 shuttles in operation since starting in 2014. The electric shuttles carry a dozen people at a time and collectively transported more than 180,000 people, covering more than 100,000 miles without a single accident, according to EasyMile.

Earlier this year two shuttles were deployed to get workers around the northern California business park Bishop Ranch. And Arlington, Texas, is leasing two shuttles as a way to get people around the city’s entertainment area that holds Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.

Isaac declined to say how much Ez10s cost, saying they provide an affordable option for public and private organizations. City officials in Arlington agreed to pay $272,000 to use the two shuttles for a year, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“The combination of being shared, electronic and autonomous — it’s the perfect alignment of what a city and Denver would be looking for,” she said.

 

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Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and on the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.