Mobility

JTA, Beep, and NAVYA AVs help transport Mayo Clinic COVID-19 tests

Posted on April 2, 2020

The JTA has actively tested AV technology since 2017 to prepare for a conversion and expansion of its Skyway automated people mover in Downtown Jacksonville into a network powered by autonomous vehicles. JTA

At a time when healthcare resources and personnel are stretched thin, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has partnered with Beep and NAVYA to use autonomous vehicles to facilitate the safe transport of COVID-19 tests collected at a drive-thru testing location at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

“This deployment is a historic moment for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority,” said JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “Along with our partners Beep, NAVYA, and Mayo Clinic, we are leveraging our learnings from three years of testing autonomous vehicles through our Ultimate Urban Circulator program. Our innovative team saw this as an opportunity to use technology to respond to this crisis in Northeast Florida and increase the safety of COVID-19 testing.”

On Monday, up to four autonomous vehicles began operating along an initial route, in full autonomous mode without attendants or other people onboard, to transport COVID-19 tests from a drive-thru testing site to a processing laboratory on Mayo Clinic’s campus. The COVID-19 test samples are placed in secure containers prior to Mayo Clinic healthcare professionals loading the samples onto the shuttle.

The JTA, Beep, NAVYA, and Bestmile teams partnered to create, test, and deploy the routes for the autonomous vehicles at Mayo Clinic in Florida to address the fluid developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. The routes are isolated from pedestrians, traffic, and staff. Beep, Mayo Clinic, and the JTA will closely monitor the service from a mobile command center to maintain safe operation.

Beep, an autonomous shuttle fleet service provider, transported the shuttles through Eagle Express Inc. from Lake Nona, Fla., an innovation hub 150 miles away where the company is headquartered in Orlando. An additional shuttle is being utilized from the JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program. The JTA has actively tested AV technology since 2017 to prepare for a conversion and expansion of its Skyway automated people mover in Downtown Jacksonville into a network powered by autonomous vehicles.

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