HART Launches Tampa Bay Area's First Autonomous Vehicle Pilot In Downtown Tampa

October 19, 2020 Tiera Oliver

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) launched the first, fully electric automated vehicle pilot in the Tampa Bay region funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. Beep, an Orlando-based autonomous shuttle service provider, partnered with HART to bring its self-driving shuttle to the Marion Street transitway in downtown Tampa.

The one-year pilot program opened to the public on Monday, October 12. The free shuttle offers first mile, last mile connection between the TECO Line Streetcar and the Marion Transit Center along North Marion Street.

Per the company, the driverless shuttle is 100% electric and costs less than $30 per month to charge. HART SMART AV operates without a steering wheel and uses a pre-programmed, fixed route with a combination of localization techniques, involving sensor technology. The shuttle uses eight sensors on the outside of the vehicle providing a 360-degree view of the environment. An on-board shuttle attendant serves as an ambassador for the riders to learn more about the technology and oversee the high-quality passenger experience. The route includes four stops at Marion Transit Center’s Bay F, Kennedy Boulevard, Washington Street, and Whiting Street with the option for a future stop at Tampa City Hall.

The HART Board of Directors approved the pilot program for at least one year of operation with an option to continue the program for a second year. With the assistance of the Florida Department of Transportation, HART was awarded funding to procure and operate the pilot AV shuttle program. According to the company, the project is fully funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) with no required match on behalf of HART.

Per the company, Beep’s experience in launching autonomous shuttles on public and private roads interfacing with mixed traffic and pedestrians will allow the transit authority to demonstrate the safe transport of people using autonomous multi-passenger shuttles, advance public adoption of autonomous transportation while proving out the safety benefits of such a service.

The autonomous shuttle will operate at a maximum speed of 15 mph as part of the one-year pilot. Passengers will be required to wear a seatbelt and use a face covering when riding the shuttle. Beep will take extra measures to ensure the comfort and safety of its riders by allowing for social distancing on-board, disinfecting the vehicle regularly, and providing hand sanitizer.

For more information visit: www.go-beep.com

About the Author

Tiera Oliver, edtorial intern for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content edits as well as newsletter updates. She also assists in news content as far as constructing and editing stories. Before interning for ECD, Tiera had recently graduated from Northern Arizona University where she received her B.A. in journalism and political science and worked as a news reporter for the university's student led newspaper, The Lumberjack.

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