PSTA Continues Autonomous Vehicle Testing by Relocating AVA to Dunedin

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) has started another test of its autonomous shuttle, AVA, in Dunedin, Florida, which will operate in the region throughout the summer.

This next test follows a successful deployment along the Bay of St. Petersburg.

AVA racers in Dunedin will experience a different automated vehicle than the one used in St. Petersburg, which carried nearly 5,000 passengers over five months. The current test is a partnership between PSTA and Beep, and it receives funding from the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA). AVA is the abbreviation for Autonomous Vehicle Advantage.

“We are more than excited that the Dunedin community is trying this brand new experience with AVA,” said Brad Miller, CEO of PSTA. “We invite people of all ages to enjoy and walk away with a better understanding of how technology can help improve safety while providing clean energy solutions that could transform transportation.”

In Dunedin, AVA will test two routes in Dunedin City that line up with the Toronto Blue Jays’ final spring training games at TD Ballpark and the summer months in downtown Dunedin.

AVA will serve Douglas Avenue between Main Street and the stadium. After the conclusion of spring training and before the start of summer, AVA will spend the rest of the time in Dunedin along Main Street, Broadway Avenue, Scotland Street, Douglas Avenue, Wood Street and Highland Avenue to the pilot end in August 2021..

Runners who have experienced AVA in St. Petersburg will be familiar with the schedule as it will keep the same hours and days of operation, Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The shuttle uses an array of sensors outside the vehicle providing a full 360-degree view of the surroundings. An onboard shuttle attendant, or co-pilot, serves as an ambassador for passengers to learn about the technology and oversee the passenger experience.

“TBARTA strongly supports the innovative development of mass transit and recognizes that our future transportation needs new efficient and sustainable technologies,” said David Green, Executive Director of TBARTA. “This project is a great way to further this cause. We look forward to feedback from this event in Dunedin and are excited about what the future holds for our region.”

The functionality of the shuttle is activated by a safe and predetermined planned route. AVA is equipped with several on-board LiDAR sensors and GPS tracking to ensure that the trajectory is maintained during operation. Vehicle performance is monitored by an on-board shuttle specialist as well as Beep’s Global Command Center located in Orlando. The vehicles are 100% electric, costing less than $ 30 per month to charge and react 10 times faster than a human can, without ever being distracted from the road.

“We are proud to partner with PSTA, the City of Dunedin and TBARTA as we advance the use of important new mobility solutions for safe and clean driverless transport. PSTA’s commitment to testing autonomous shuttles in first-mile / last-mile use cases is a great reflection of the focus on innovation, ”said Joe Moye, CEO of Beep. “Our public-private partnership on this project will test how we can deliver mobility for all in our downtown corridors while reducing personal vehicle use, improving safety, advancing connectivity and enabling a sustainable means of transport for the future.

The autonomous shuttle will operate at a maximum speed of 15 mph under a three-month pilot. Riders will be required to wear a seat belt and use a face shield when in the shuttle. Passengers can expect onboard processes and procedures that align with carpooling and transit best practices in accordance with federal guidelines such as frequent cleaning procedures and modified seating capacity. Passengers are limited to one round trip.

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