Using autonomous vehicles to transport COVID-19 specimens, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida was able to safely move thousands of COVID-19 test samples from a drive-thru site to their lab for processing with no attendant onboard to limit risk of exposure.
Beep and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority launched autonomous vehicles to transport COVID-19 tests at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. The self-driving shuttles with no attendant onboard served two primary objectives. First, it freed up cycles for Mayo Clinic staff who would have otherwise transported samples thus enabling them to focus on other important tasks. Secondly, moving the samples autonomously also removed a level of human interaction with the tests and helped reduce exposure to the virus.
Fast-tracking an autonomous vehicle route
The autonomous shuttles transported the COVID-19 tests on a 0.5-mile route from a drive-thru testing site on campus and then delivered them to a processing laboratory on the property. The COVID-19 test samples were placed in secure containers prior to Mayo Clinic healthcare professionals loading the samples onto the shuttle. Once the samples were secured on the vehicle, a remote operator initiated the shuttle's journey from the testing site to the drop-off location. While the shuttle is along the route, it is monitored by on-ground support staff equipped with a wireless e-stop.
The program was heavily utilized during the pandemic safely moving roughly 22,000 COVID-19 test samples during the roughly four month project.
Closing Statement“This deployment is a historic moment for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. 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,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.
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