The Total Deployment and Operations Cost of Two Automated Shuttle Deployments in Downtown Columbus Was $2,880,748.

The Smart Columbus Demonstration Program Evaluated the Deployment of Automated Shuttles to Support Existing Transit Users Traveling to Jobs and Businesses, and Food Pantry Delivery.

Made Public Date

Primarily funded by the USDOT’s Smart City Challenge, the Smart Columbus Program is a collection of eight transportation, mobility and data studies aimed at improving access to jobs, enhancing tourism, stimulating the economy, connecting residents to safe and reliable transportation, and supporting efficient and sustainable movement of people and goods throughout Columbus. As part of the Smart Columbus Program, two Connected Electric Automated Vehicle (CEAV) deployments of shuttles equipped with a suite of LiDAR sensors, 360-degree cameras, and GPS to achieve SAE J3016 Level 5 (Full Driving Automation) were demonstrated. The goal of the study was to aid travelers by improving access to downtown attractions and to provide better connection between existing transit routes and jobs and businesses.

  • The first CEAV deployment (Smart Circuit) was located along the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus which served various attractions and cultural resources. The operation of the shuttles started from December 2018 until September 2019, seven days a week from 6am to 10pm. Around 16,062 passengers (59 riders per day) took the Smart Circuit shuttle. The six shuttles drove 19,118 miles during the demonstration.
  • The second CEAV deployment (Linden Leap) served first and last mile connection to transit in Linden, Columbus. The Linden Leap automated shuttle was announced and distributed to 3,681 residents. The service launched in February 2020 and operated for two weeks, in which 50 passengers took rides. Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Linden Leap transformed its mission to be a food pantry delivery service, delivering food boxes from St. Stephen to Rosewind, a large public housing development in the city of Columbus. During the demonstration period from July 2020 to April 2021, the shuttle service delivered 100 boxes of food per week.

Deployment costs from the project's beginning (August 2016) until the launch of the Smart Circuit (December 10, 2018) and Linden LEAP (February 4, 2020) totaled $1,555,467. Operational costs totaling $1,325,280 were incurred from the launches until the end of the demonstrations (April 2021). The cost breakdown is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Deployment and Operations Costs for the Connected, Electric, Automated Vehicles Project

CEAV Vendor




General Deployment Planning




Systems engineering, Route development, Operational concept, Testing and documentation




City Labor




Smart Circuit




ODOT/Vehicle vendor




Linden LEAP




Vehicle vendor, NHTSA exemption, Operator training




Systems engineering, Route development, Operational concept, Testing and documentation




Project manager and testing lead




City Labor




Recruitment and adoption (Strategy/Planning, Messaging, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Video Capture and Editing, Grassroots Engagement, Crisis Communications)




Recruitment and adoption (Website Development, Survey Development)




Outreach and engagement