Autonomous shuttle service launches in Orlando
In a race where some cities are placing their image boosting hopes in the hands of emerging technologies, Orlando has become an early leader with the launch of what may be Florida's first autonomous shuttle bus service to be operated as a real first and last mile transit alternative.
In late September 2019, Beep, an Orlando-based dealer for shared mobility autonomous vehicle research and development began a fixed route autonomous shuttle service operation in Lake Nona. Founded by the international investment organization Tavistock Group and developed by Tavistock Development Company, Lake Nona is a nationally-recognized forward-thinking, smart city within the City of Orlando, located a few miles southwest of Orlando International Airport.
A Move Nona vehicle at the Lake Nona Town Center dedicated stop. The autonomous shuttles in operation at Lake Nona are products of French-based NAVYA. NAVYA promotes the vehicle as an innovative, effective, clean and intelligent mobility solution for the first and last mile. When used properly, the autonomous shuttle is a mobility solution that can potentially complement other forms of public transportation within multimodal friendly community.
With Beep being a preferred partner in Florida for French-based autonomous vehicle manufacturer NAVYA and headquartered nearby, Lake Nona serves as a perfect living lab and model for the roll out and incremental expansion of a technology where continued testing in an uncongested environment helps minimize complexity and associated unknown risks.
To support multimodal connectivity within a new urbanist community already home to more than 40 miles of paved and unpaved trails, Beep operates “Move Nona” as a one mile long fixed route shuttle service with pickup and drop-off spots at two centralized destinations, the Lake Nona Town Center and Laureate Park Village Center. Unlike other regions in the state that test these vehicles in controlled settings, Move Nona’s driverless vehicles are open to the public for daily use and travel in mixed traffic within public right of way. Traveling at a maximum speed 11 miles per hour, a ride on the ten seat vehicles requires all passengers to be seated with fastened seat belts.
The Move Nona autonomous shuttle connects the Lake Nona Town Center with Laureate Park Village Center. Currently under phased construction, the Lake Nona Town Center will feature four million square feet of premium shopping, dining, and entertainment at build out. Already completed, Phase I includes a four-story office building with ground-level restaurants, a 200-room, dual-branded Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn, and parking garage defined by iconic art installations.
Although the shuttles are driverless, attendants employed by Beep accompany riders in each vehicle due laws requiring attendants during this time of autonomous vehicle research, development and testing. Having attendants aboard that can take over manual operations of the shuttle at any time, also ensure a pleasant, safe and educational experience for passengers.
Signature Flight Support Corporate Headquarters at Lake Nona Town Center.
For those looking to take a free ride on Move Nona, the shuttle bus service is operational between 10 a.m. -2 p.m. and 6 p.m. -10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Beep recommends that passengers arrive at identified stops 20 minutes before the shuttle is scheduled to arrive. In the meantime, here is a brief tour of what many other cities hope will run on their streets in the near future.
The autonomous shuttle service also stops at the Laureate Park Village Center. Laureate Park is a large new urbanist community at Lake Nona that features brightly colored bungalows, townhomes, cottages and apartments situated alongside a small central village center, landscaped green belts, pocket parks and trails.
Next Page: Move Nona Photo Tour