The Move Nona autonomous shuttle program celebrates one year on the road
Since launching September 2019, the iconic blue and red patterned Move Nona autonomous shuttles have carried roughly 16,000 passengers nearly 9,000 miles around Lake Nona. From Boxi Park to Laureate Park, the all-electric shuttles have been used in place of more than 9,400 vehicle trips that would have emitted 8,100 pounds of CO2 into the air.
What started with two shuttles on a single route, has now expanded to include a fleet of eight shuttles that travel along four different routes allowing passengers to travel around Lake Nona with ease including stops at Lake Nona Town Center, Laureate Park Village Center, Laureate Park model homes, Pixon, Heroes Community Park, and Orlando VA Medical Center.
We spoke with Move Nona operation partner, Beep, to talk about what’s next for Lake Nona’s autonomous shuttle program. Beep Chief Technology Officer Clayton Tino tells us about the process for expanding routes and service, the company’s new global command center, and what they see for the future in Lake Nona.
Tell us a little bit about your role at Beep
I’m responsible for various technical operations at Beep from research and development to selecting the vehicles, programming them, getting them on the road, and updating the routes and maps. I’m still excited every time I ride a shuttle – the novelty hasn’t worn off for me yet!
One of the most interesting things to me about AV platforms is that they all have unique features. The vehicles use complex technology, so there is a lot of logic that goes into how they behave and interact with their surroundings. At Beep, part of our value as an AV service provider is understanding those features and figuring out which vehicles are best for each use case.
I’m also responsible for opening our new global command center in Lake Nona Town Center where we provide monitoring and instant support to our service areas in Lake Nona and other communities like Tampa and Jacksonville. The command center is the cornerstone of our new headquarters, which we anticipate will open before the end of the year.
Move Nona recently launched some new routes – where are they running?
We launched two new routes at the beginning of August. One is the yellow route running from Laureate Park Village Center to Heroes Community Park and Nona Adventure Park. The other is the blue route that takes potential homebuyers on a model home tour through Laureate Park.
In September, we launched our forth route that runs between the VA and Town Center. It also connects near a LYNX bus stop at the corner of Veterans Way and Laureate Boulevard. It’s a cool use case to provide mobility from Medical City to Town Center and be that last-mile transportation solution that connects riders to other lines of service.
How are the new routes chosen, planned, and approved?
The process to plan and deploy a new route depends on a few variables including whether or not we have a vehicle on hand and if we’ve already created a 3D map of the area. Typically, the mapping process can take anywhere from a few days to three months. Then the map is programmed into each individual vehicle.
When we plan a route, we take a wholistic approach by looking at interesting use cases and evaluating where we need to improve mobility throughout the community. Then we actively review our ridership to make sure our routes are useful.
Every route we deploy is reviewed by the government because we operate under the purview of the U.S. Department of Transportation, specifically the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We provide them with descriptions of the route and traffic characteristics, identifying risks like pedestrians, narrow lanes, and on-street parking. We have a great relationship with our counterparts at the federal level and have a proven record of successful service and safe operation.
What’s next for Beep in Lake Nona?
From a mobility perspective, we’re excited to launch a new rider app that will show Move Nona passengers where the vehicles are along their routes. In the future, we’ll introduce a feature that will allow you to hail the vehicle to a stop.
All of the routes in Lake Nona currently operate with vehicles designed by our French manufacturing partner NAVYA. In a few months, we’re planning to add a new autonomous vehicle to the fleet that is made in the U.S. These new vehicles will have the same operations you’re used to seeing in Lake Nona, but with a different experience. One of our goals in Lake Nona is to have more multi-purpose vehicles that can be rerouted as needed.
We’re excited to get another autonomous vehicle type on the road in Lake Nona. One of the coolest things to me about Lake Nona is that it’s a living lab. Compared to other cities, it’s interesting for me to see all the new ways the community attracts innovators. Beep is one of those innovations and I’m excited to see how our AV solutions will mature in Lake Nona and become more involved in the community.
Check out the Move Nona digital map for a closer look at each route and to see the latest schedule and operating hours. Click here to learn more about Beep’s COVID-19 response plan and what to expect on your next ride.