The Hawaii Department of Transportation recently launched a new autonomous all-electric passenger shuttle pilot program that will augment the existing Wiki Wiki shuttle bus service at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

[Above photo by Hawaii DOT]

The 18-month pilot project will test out a new fleet of “Miki” autonomous shuttles – the Hawaiian word for “agile” – along with support services and software; all supplied by Beep, Inc.

Each Miki shuttle can hold 11 passengers, including the shuttle attendant, and can accommodate one wheelchair. The shuttles will operate at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour.

While the Miki shuttles will be driven autonomously, Hawaii DOT said an attendant will be on board at all times to serve as ambassador for the new shuttle pilot project and to educate riders on how Miki operates and the service offered at the airport.

Shuttle attendants are trained on the autonomous shuttle’s safety features and can take over manually at any time by utilizing a controller on board, the agency noted.

Ed Sniffen, Hawaii DOT director, added in a statement that this project seeks to evaluate ways to increase overall efficiency of intra-airport transportation service, with two Miki autonomous buses operating on a “robust service schedule” along the same route as the Wiki Wiki buses between the C and G gates and Terminals 1 and 2.

“We are proud to launch the Miki shuttle service which will provide additional convenience for our airport users,” Sniffen noted. “The autonomous electric vehicles add to our ongoing progress to transition our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles and will help meet the state’s sustainability goals.”

This pilot project is made possible through the state’s infrastructure as a service contract with Sustainability Partners, which Hawaii DOT said enables it and other interested state and county agencies to procure electric vehicles and charging infrastructure on a per-mile cost basis.

This pilot program complements a similar effort Hawaii DOT spearheaded in June 2023 in collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Mānoa; the launch of the school’s first autonomous electric passenger shuttle as part of its Rainbow Shuttle service to transport students and staff around campus.