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New publicly-funded self-driving bus is coming to Fairfax

The bus will run on electric power to reduce carbon emissions.

FAIRFAX, Va. — Cars are one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions today. If more people use public transportation, these emissions will be reduced drastically. In a partnership with Dominion Energy, Fairfax County is slated to get the first publicly-funded electric, autonomous shuttle bus in Virginia. This method of transportation, called Relay, will take passengers from Dunn Loring-Merrifield metro station to the popular Mosaic District. It's a game-changer for workers in these areas. 

"Fairfax County is a real leader in innovation and technology. We have over 9,000 companies that are dealing with various forms of technology," says Rachel Flynn, Deputy County Executive of Fairfax. "This was a natural fit; to be the first in the state to launch a pilot and see how this could work." 

RELATED: How Fairfax is helping the environment with electric school buses

The confidence that the Relay bus would work came from multiple tests. The bus is guided by a series of sensors and radars to make it safe and efficient. As a precaution, a human safety steward will be on board at all times to take control if needed.

 "Because we're an electric company, we believe that electrification of transportation is going to be part of the future," says Julie Manzari, part of Dominion Energy's innovation team. "We want to understand autonomous mobility to help our customers."

Customers will be further helped by the fact that Relay is a free form of transportation. It will operate Monday through Thursday during the initial demonstration period. Operational days may be expanded as the test year progresses. 

This article is sponsored by Dominion Energy.