The city of Altamonte Springs in Florida has revealed that an autonomous shuttle service will begin to operate within the city starting on July 24, 2023. The service – called CraneRIDES – will move passengers around the Cranes Roost area of the city and will be operated in collaboration with Beep, an Orlando-based autonomous shuttle company.
The two electric shuttles – provided by Beep – can hold up to eight passengers and travel at up to 24km/h. The shuttles will serve a route in uptown Altamonte, from Cranes Roost to the Altamonte Mall and back.
“This is about getting our community to adopt these and utilize them, whether it’s for individual transportation or families or groups,” commented Joe Moye, CEO of Beep. “There will always be what I call a human in the loop, but we are going to transition from that being physically on board to that being remote in the next couple of years.
“The vehicle basically has virtual rails and virtual eyes. It has sensors and cameras that operate the vehicle and determine if there’s an obstacle or a pedestrian it needs to respond to – much safer than anything human-driven out there today.”
The city has stated that the new autonomous shuttles will not drive along State Road 436 or cross over Interstate 4. The route designed for CraneRIDES has been marked with high-visibility signage and shuttle icons on the pavement to enhance safety for passengers, pedestrians and other road users. Users will be able to track the shuttles using a smartphone application developed by Beep.
During years two and three, the autonomous shuttle service will expand into additional areas with further stops.
Frank Martz, city manager for Altamonte Springs, added, “We are going to be talking to other cities around Seminole County and around Central Florida and around the state to show them this is how we implemented it, this is how we procured, this is how we did the burn in, this is how we did the communication, this is how we are doing policing on these vehicles.
“So, the idea is we are going to essentially create a manual and we’re going to be able to hand it to other cities and say, ‘If you want to do this, here’s how we did it’.”