When Lincoln didn't get a Smart Cities $50 million grant to create a citywide driverless shuttle service in 2016, city staff didn't give up.
Public Works is still hoping to make sure Lincoln is at the forefront of the driverless car movement that many believe will change the country's transportation system.
The city has signed a $99,470 contract with HDR Inc. to give Lincoln an edge as private companies perfect driverless vehicles of the future.
The study will look at the latest technology, describe a potential pilot project, provide business models for future service, and look at insurance and necessary law changes.
The consultant will also provide information about current vehicle providers and facilitate meetings with industry leaders.
The consultant will also develop a PowerPoint presentation for briefing others and a short video summarizing the concepts.
"Technology in this area is changing so rapidly, we wanted to get our arms around what is the latest and greatest," said Lonnie Burklund, assistant director of transportation for the Public Works and Utilities Department.
The study will help Lincoln determine the best software and hardware for intersections now being upgraded as part of what is called Green Light Lincoln, said Burklund.
"I am hoping we can sort of future-proof our signal upgrades ... learn how vehicles will talk to each other, how they will talk with the infrastructure," Burklund said about the way the study might help with Green Light Lincoln signal upgrades.
"We want to know the practices of other cities and states, the legislative and legal impacts," in order to move forward with a potential pilot project, Burklund said.
The result of the study should be a report that can be given to the Legislature, which is looking at driverless vehicles, often called autonomous vehicles (AVs) or micro-autonomous vehicles.
A legislative resolution (LR215) appears to be specifically aimed at Lincoln, proposing to "study the feasibility of a pilot project to allow a city of the primary class to operate autonomous shuttles." A legislative research division report on AVs notes Lincoln did not get the Smart City Challenge grant "but city officials say they are seeking private and University of Nebraska partners to move a version of the plan."