Autonomous Shuttle Service Launches in Florida

Will run seven days a week and be accompanied by an onboard attendant who can answer questions, resolve issues and take control of the driving if needed

Graham Hope

July 17, 2023

2 Min Read

A Florida city is set to launch a groundbreaking autonomous shuttle service that will be free to use for residents and visitors.

The CraneRIDES pilot, which will get underway on July 24 in Altamonte Springs, a city of 45,000 people in Seminole County, is aimed at providing a sustainable alternative to the area’s current transportation options.

Initially, the project will make use of two electric shuttles, operated by Lake Nona-based Beep, on a fixed 1.5-mile route through Uptown Altamonte that features four stops at popular locations – Altamonte Mall, the Renaissance Center, Cranes Roost and AMC Theatre.

The autonomous vehicles (AVs) will run seven days a week, and be accompanied by an onboard attendant who can answer passengers’ questions, resolve technical issues and take control of the driving if needed. Maximum speed is 15 mph and up to eight passengers can be carried.

Although the project will bring immediate benefits to Altamonte Springs – by offering an alternative to traveling by car, thereby reducing congestion, for example – it is hoped it will also have further significance by acting as a trial run for potential similar services elsewhere.

Florida’s Department of Transportation (FDOT) specifically chose the city to serve as a test bed and provide data on implementing the technology in other municipalities, awarding a service development grant which provides 50% of the $2.4 million funding required for the first three years of operation.

Related:Peachtree Corners: Smart City USA

“The state has a vested interest in developing multiple modes of transportation that can efficiently move people,” said John E. Tyler, FDOT District 5 secretary. “Autonomous vehicles can be part of the solution. With the hundreds of people moving to Florida every day, building new roads cannot be our only focus. 

“Our partnership with the city of Altamonte Springs creates a scalable, replicable model that other Florida communities can now evaluate through hands-on experience.”

Expansion of the project in Altamonte Springs is already being planned, with the route likely to be extended in time to incorporate further locations including the AdventHealth Altamonte campus, Altamonte Springs SunRail Station and CenterPointe, a planned 55-acre mixed-use development with a hotel, retail establishments and residential properties.

The shuttles – which are made by French firm Navya – will be provided by Beep, which has extensive experience in running AV tests and pilots in a variety of locations, including California, North Carolina and Peachtree Corners, the Smart City just north of Atlanta in Georgia.

“Advancing these important transportation alternatives requires testing these vehicles in practical use cases where the public can experience improved mobility on quieter, safer streets,” said Joe Moye, Beep CEO. “I can’t say enough about the vision of the Altamonte Springs leadership for their efforts in leading the way in this important area of transformation.”

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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