Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Beep to provide autonomous shuttle for Florida State College in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) have introduced autonomous vehicles on FSCJ’s downtown campus, making it the first college campus in the state of Florida to receive autonomous shuttles for students and visitors.

The initiative is in collaboration with Beep and Oxa.

Nat Ford, JTA CEO, says: “Our partnership with FSCJ and our industry partners Beep and Oxa, goes beyond merely deploying autonomous vehicles on campus – it marks a significant stride towards enhancing mobility in Jacksonville, making it more efficient and safer.

“This initiative is a testament to years of hard work and collaboration between the private and public sector, including the US Department of Transportation.

“We are eager for the FSCJ campus and the wider Jacksonville community to experience these AVs firsthand to see the benefits these vehicles bring as we prepare for the launch of Phase 1 of the U2C program, the Bay Street Innovation Corridor, in 2025.”

In 2020, JTA and FSCJ executed a joint Memorandum of Understanding to explore ways to educate, transport, and improve roadway and pedestrian safety through enhanced mobility options in the City of Jacksonville.

The shuttles operated by Beep, a Florida-based provider of autonomous shared mobility solutions, and incorporating self-driving software from Oxa, a global leader in autonomous vehicle software, will connect students, faculty, and visitors across the segmented FSCJ Downtown Jacksonville campus on a one-mile route that connects the Advanced Technology Center with Buildings A, B, C and D.

The launch of these electric and autonomous platforms builds upon the years of testing and validation done by JTA at the FSCJ Cecil North Campus test and learn track and at the Armsdale Test and Learn Center; both facilities devoted to evaluating the best of breed autonomous technologies ahead of Phase 1 of the U2C, the Bay Street Innovation Corridor, in 2025.

Joe Moye, Beep CEO, says: “The project at FSCJ, Beep’s third university campus deployment, marks the beginning of our collective efforts with our partners in the JTA U2C project to transform mobility and accessibility while improving roadway safety and reducing carbon emissions in the City of Jacksonville.

“Community feedback and practical experience from these pilots is vital for the safe advancement of autonomous technology, which deepens our industry’s understanding of what is required to improve the development and deployment of these technologies to change how people move and connect to key services within our communities.

“The AV launch synergizes with FSCJ’s National Science Foundation grant, which fosters the design and implementation of innovative curricula to prepare students for the future workforce in the important areas of autonomous technology and electric vehicle platforms.”

John Avendano, FSCJ president, PhD, says: “As the community’s college, we are committed to anticipating areas of opportunity and developing ideas to address them, all while elevating the workforce of tomorrow.

“This partnership is a perfect complement to our National Science Foundation grant, and we are excited for the progress we know it will bring about for our students and neighbors throughout the service area.

“In direct response to the technology, tools, and resources our faculty, staff, and students now have access to, our automotive technology program representatives are regularly serving as experts in their fields, presenting at national conferences and passing on their expertise to support policy setting for industry workforce certification and helping prepare even more educators and students across the country for what’s next.”

The FSCJ shuttles’ autonomous capability is delivered by Oxa Driver software, which has safety as a key design principle.

Gavin Jackson, CEO, Oxa, says: “Travelling in a self-driving vehicle is an exciting experience but first and foremost riders must be safe.

“To ensure passenger safety, all shuttles driven by Oxa have extra sensory perception in comparison to human drivers; with high fidelity cameras, lidar and radar delivering 360-degree always-on sensing.

“These vehicle superpowers are backed up by hardware and software systems with built-in redundancy and an extensive virtual testing regime that prepared the test shuttle so well it ran autonomously on its first lap of the FSCJ route.”

Expanding the testing of autonomous vehicles in FSCJ’s Downtown Campus will also continue to prepare the community for how autonomous technology will enhance the quality of life for all who learn, live, and work in the City of Jacksonville.

Debbie Buckland, JTA board chair, says: “Improving transportation is not just about connecting places; it’s about connecting people, fostering economic growth, and opening up new possibilities in improving the quality of life for Jacksonville and its residents, present and future.

“The U2C program will be a catalyst for progress, bringing us closer as a community, and this collaboration with FSCJ is proof of the strength of partnerships and an exciting step toward that goal.”

The first phase of the U2C program will implement a full-scale autonomous shuttle network with connected technology down Bay Street in 2025.

The entire U2C program comprises three main phases. Each will incrementally build the 10-mile transportation network connecting key downtown Jacksonville corridors, including the Sports/Entertainment District, the Downtown Northbank, and Southbank, with branches into surrounding neighborhoods such as Brooklyn, Riverside, San Marco, and Springfield.

The U2C program will ultimately provide mobility for all by extending access to goods, services, entertainment, and jobs in this critical urban hub along Jacksonville’s riverfront.

Leave a Reply