Jun 03, 2021

PSTA Continues Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Dunedin

PSTA AVA Launches in Dunedin

After a successful stint along the St. Petersburg bayfront, the autonomous shuttle, AVA, starts another test run today in Dunedin and will operate there through the summer.

AVA riders in Dunedin will experience a different automated vehicle than the one used in St. Petersburg, which carried nearly 5,000 riders over five months. The on-going testing is a partnership between the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and BEEP, and it receives funding from the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA). AVA is short for Autonomous Vehicle Advantage.

In Dunedin, AVA will be testing two routes in the City of Dunedin that align with the remaining Toronto Blue Jays spring training games at TD Ballpark and the summer months for Downtown Dunedin. Beginning Wednesday, May 19th, AVA will service Douglas Avenue between Main Street and the stadium. Following the conclusion of spring training and before the start of summer, she will spend the rest of her time in Dunedin along Main Street, Broadway Avenue, Scotland Street, Douglas Avenue, Wood Street and Highland Avenue until the end of the pilot in August 2021. Riders who experienced AVA in St. Petersburg will be familiar with her schedule because she will keep the same operating hours and days Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The shuttle uses an array of sensors outside of the vehicle providing a full 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 will be able to enjoy all the shops and restaurants downtown Dunedin has to offer.

“We are beyond excited for the Dunedin community to try this all new experience with AVA,” said Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer of PSTA. “We invite people of all ages to enjoy and leave with a better understanding of how technology can help enhance safety all while providing clean-energy solutions that could transform transportation.”

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

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 AVA project is the latest example of how PSTA is leading the way on innovative, sustainable transportation options. We’re excited to bring this driverless technology to North County and offer more people a chance to experience AVA,” said Gina Driscoll, Vice Chair of PSTA Board of Directors.

“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 transportation. PSTA’s commitment to test autonomous shuttles in first-mile / last-mile use cases is a great reflection of their emphasis on innovation,” said Joe Moye, Beep Chief Executive Officer. “Our public-private partnership on this project will test how we can deliver mobility for all in our downtown corridors while also reducing personal vehicle usage, improving safety, advancing connectivity and enabling a sustainable means of transportation for the future.”

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.