Optimus Ride has already launched a new self-driving vehicle service in the Washington, DC suburb of Reston, Virginia.
Since August, the company has been ferrying passengers between a Fannie Mae office building at the site and an overflow parking lot a few minutes' walk away. But Optimus Ride has much larger ambitions for the site.
The 36-acre property is directly adjacent to a new stop ("Reston Town Center") on the DC Metro system's Silver Line. The site's owner, Brookfield Properties, is planning a massive mixed-use development here it has dubbed Halley Rise. There will be new homes, office space, and retail stores—including a Wegmans grocery store.
Optimus Ride is betting that self-driving vehicles can transform the way projects like this are designed—making it much easier to build pedestrian-friendly, high-density developments far out in the suburbs.
There are fundamentally two kinds of neighborhoods: high-density neighborhoods oriented around walking and transit, and low-density neighborhoods oriented around cars.
High-density urban neighborhoods have enough foot traffic that stores and restaurants can thrive without parking lots. The lack of parking lots allows stores and homes to be closer together, which improves walkability.
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