Jacksonville-area first responders, fire fighters and law enforcement officials are more prepared for the future of public transportation after completing emergency training with autonomous vehicles. The JTA, along with Florida-based autonomous mobility solutions company Beep, First Transit and autonomous vehicle manufacturer NAVYA, hosted a day-long training session at the North Florida TPO campus, focusing on the latest AV technology and how first responders should address emergency situations.
“As we continue developing autonomous vehicle services as part of the Ultimate Urban Circulator program in Jacksonville, it’s crucial that our law enforcement and fire and rescue partners familiarize themselves with this technology so they are prepared to encounter them under any circumstances,” said JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford Sr.
Participants from local and regional agencies received hands-on operational training and learned how to respond to scenarios involving potential hazards, passenger safety, immobilization and more.
“It is extremely important to the mission of JFRD that we continue to stay ahead of advancements in equipment and technology,” said Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) Interim Chief Keith Powers.
“Throughout its history, the JFRD has always trained on new technologies before they are implemented, so we were happy to train with these autonomous vehicles before they hit the street,” said Powers.
Beep, founded by experienced fleet managers and technology entrepreneurs, offers the next generation of services for passenger mobility to fleet operators in planned communities and low-speed environments across the public and private sector. This training is one of Beep’s services and part of its mission to enable innovators like JTA to advance their autonomous technology solutions in a way that is pragmatic and practical, with a rigorous focus on public safety and security.
“We are very excited to support the mission of the JFRD and offer training to this most critical audience,” said Joe Moye, Beep’s CEO. “This training enables First Responders to become familiar with and knowledgeable about the vehicles so that they can confidently interact with them.”
Beep has an exclusive dealer arrangement for the state of Florida, with NAVYA, a global leader in the autonomous vehicle (AV) market, and the manufacturer of the AUTONOM SHUTTLE which underpins Beeps services. The shuttles are fully autonomous, driverless, electric and utilizes advanced guidance and detection systems to interact in real time with their environment.
“The safety of our vehicles and all the passengers they transport is our first priority—always,” continued Moye. “NAVYA has a perfect safety record according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Automated Driving Systems Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment (VSSA) Disclosure Index making them an ideal partner for Beep.”
The training comes as the JTA prepares Downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding neighborhoods for the Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program, anchored by autonomous vehicles.
The JTA established the autonomous vehicle Test and Learn Track near the Sports and Entertainment Complex in 2017. Since then, the Authority has worked with autonomous vehicle manufactures like NAVYA to test, develop and prepare this technology for public use.
Along with our partners at JEA, North Florida TPO, FDOT and the City of Jacksonville, the JTA is currently developing Phase One of the U2C, called the Bay Street Innovation Corridor. This first leg will feature a fleet of 15 autonomous vehicles that will traverse a three-mile loop from Hogan Street in Downtown Jacksonville to the city’s Sports and Entertainment Complex.
The Bay Street Innovation Corridor also will link AVs to an extensive array of smart sensors, traffic signals and digital traffic solutions to increase mobility and to enhance the pedestrian experience in Downtown Jacksonville.
“As the leader in shared autonomous vehicle operations in North America, safety of passengers and property is paramount,” said Gregg Baxter, senior vice president of rail and emerging technology for First Transit. “We are proud to support the Bay Street Innovation Corridor initiative, JFRD and Beep for the emergency preparedness training.”