Florida’s Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has announced that is has selected the Balfour Beatty Vision 2 Reality (V2R) team and autonomous vehicle (AV) solutions provider Beep to deliver its new public AV service.
The service (Phase I of the Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) project) on the Bay Street Innovation Corridor in Downtown Jacksonville, will be a roughly three-mile, at-grade autonomous vehicle transportation solution running along East Bay Street.
The project is supported by a US$12.5 million BUILD grant from the USDOT funding from the Florida DOT North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, and local funds. Phase II of the U2C program includes a full conversion of the JTA’s elevated Skyway APM system. Phase III will expand street level extensions into neighboring communities to connect downtown Jacksonville to nearby neighborhoods.
“As the first phase of the U2C program, The Bay Street Innovation Corridor lays the foundation for the U2C vision by introducing autonomous vehicles and enhanced technology to Downtown Jacksonville’s premier mobility corridor,” says JTA’s CEO Nathaniel P Ford Sr. “We are proud to collaborate with the Balfour Beatty V2R Team and its consortium of world-class and leading firms like Beep. Their expertise and innovation will help the JTA deliver the nation’s foremost public transportation network powered by sustainable, electric autonomous vehicles. By leveraging, modernizing and expanding our existing Skyway APM system, and enhancing street level infrastructure, the U2C sets the bar for the rest of the nation.”
Since 2017, the JTA’s Automation & Innovation Division has tested seven AVs and four AV platforms, and engaged with community partners, local schools, first responders, and disability advocates to ensure the U2C is safe, sustainable and accessible to all.
From April to June 2020, the JTA and Beep deployed a fleet of AVs operating in Level 4 autonomy to support the Mayo Clinic’s Covid-19 testing efforts at its Jacksonville Campus. Over the four-month period, AVs safely transported more than 30,000 Covid-19 samples collected from a drive-thru testing site to the hospital’s laboratories for testing. The Mayo Clinic project has since received national and international recognition from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and ITS World Congress.
“We are honored that the Jacksonville Transportation Authority has placed its trust in Beep and the V2R Team to deliver the nation’s largest-ever autonomous shuttle project to enhance mobility-for-all in the downtown area,” says Joe Moye, CEO of Beep. “Phase I of the U2C builds upon our successful partnership to safely test autonomous vehicles and build passenger and community trust in these transformative transportation solutions. We look forward to leveraging our experience as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s AV test program to positively impact safety and sustainability with this strategic program. JTA’s U2C project will transform the City of Jacksonville and provide its residents with enhanced mobility options intended to activate the community and make transportation safer.”