Perrone Robotics has launched a three-month pilot autonomous shuttle program in partnership with JAUNT and Virginia’s Albemarle County. The company’s goal is to increase mobility options for people across the country.
Headquartered in Crozet, Va., Perrone Robotics has been developing autonomous vehicle software for years, according to David Hofert, chief marketing officer and vice president of sales. Its new shuttle is called Autonomous Vehicle, Neighborhood Use (AVNU). Prior to its launch, the company gave out rides to community members to gage its popularity.
“When we were first testing it we noticed there was high interest with younger individuals, as they were attracted to the look and design. There was also a lot of interest with the elderly community, as it helps get them to public transportation,” said Hofert.
Although the pilot program is three months and will operate in Crozet, Va., the company aims to make it a permanent fixture that will become available in other states. Hofert also mentioned Perrone Robotics is continuing to further develop the shuttle. It currently has a 25 mile per hour speed limit and is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“In the future we’d like to expand and move onto transit vans that can handle higher speeds and that can travel farther. Right now we have what can be seen as a neighborhood vehicle,” said Hofert. “There’s a lot of places that are interested in this type of transportation method. We’re looking to expand it to Florida, Ohio, and even northern Virginia in Fairfax County,” Hofert added.
The pilot program was initially announced in November with a March launch date, but additional safety testing caused the launch to be pushed back to July, according to the company.
“Even with the launch being pushed back we still aim to provide vehicles that aren’t too expensive for the public. Our vehicles are able to run around the clock with minimal parking pressure, causing less traffic to build, not to mention it’s also good for the environment,” said Hofert.
For now, those in Virginia who are interested in experiencing the shuttle fist hand should stay tuned, as the company aims to post routes and schedules on a new website that is expected to become available later this month.