Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is launching the first, fully electric automated vehicle (AV) pilot in the Tampa Bay region, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Beep, an Orlando-based Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) provider, is partnering with HART to bring its self-driving shuttle to the Marion Street transitway in downtown Tampa. The free HART SMART AV offers first mile, last mile connection between the TECO Line Streetcar and the Marion Transit Center along North Marion Street. The one-year pilot program opens to the public on Oct. 12.
The all-electric driverless shuttle costs less than $30 per month to charge and operates without a steering wheel — using 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 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.
HART’s 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.
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 additional measures to ensure the comfort and safety of riders by allowing for social distancing on-board, disinfecting the vehicle regularly, and providing hand sanitizer.