Earlier this week, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), in partnership with Beep and funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), hosted an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) day with various members of the community (click here for media kit).Passengers with assistive mobility devices were invited to experience AVA, which stands for Autonomous Vehicle Advantage, the state’s first fleet of autonomous vehicles driving in mixed traffic.
“PSTA has always kept every single passenger in mind when it comes to innovation and our services,” said Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer of PSTA. “Having an ‘ADA’ day where we invite passengers with disabilities to experience new autonomous technology, such as AVA, and how they can use the vehicle is the inclusivity we strive for.”
"I'm really pleased to be able to participate in this pilot project for PSTA. As a regular rider of the bus system and CareRide/DART, I have always seen how committed they are to riders with disabilities and AVA is no exception,” said Gloria Lepik Corriga, transit rider. “PSTA didn't just decide what we should have, they reached out to folks like me for our direct input. I am grateful for this focus on service for all customers!"
“A core focus of Beep is to ensure the transportation of tomorrow provides mobility for all including those in the ADA community who may otherwise have limited travel options. Engaging all members of the community during our projects with our transit partners like PSTA is a critical component in the development and enhancements of autonomous vehicle features,” said Joe Moye, Beep CEO.
AVA operates along Bayshore Drive Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. until February 2021. The shuttle uses eight sensors on the outside of the vehicle providing a 360-degree view of the environment. An on-board shuttle attendant, or copilot, serves as an ambassador for the riders to learn more about the technology and oversee the high-quality passenger experience. Riders can enjoy the Waterfront District of the Sunshine City, including attractions like the St. Pete Pier, the Vinoy, Mahaffey Theater and Dali Museum.
The functionality of the shuttle is enabled by a safe, pre-determined planned route. AVA is equipped with multiple onboard LiDAR sensors and GPS tracking to ensure the path is maintained during operation. The vehicle performance is monitored by an onboard shuttle specialist as well as Beep’s Global Command Center located in Orlando, Florida. The vehicles are 100-percent electric, cost less than $30 per month to charge, and react 10 times faster than a human can, while never getting distracted from the roadway.
The autonomous shuttle will operate at a maximum speed of 15 mph as part of a 3-month pilot. Riders will be required to wear a seatbelt and use a face covering while on the shuttle. Passengers can expect processes and procedures onboard that align with best practices for ridesharing and transit according to federal guidelines such as frequent cleaning procedures and a modified seating capacity. (see Beep’s COVID response page here). Passengers are limited to one round trip. Shuttle service and routes will be operating until February 2021.