The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is preparing to make a potential switch from driver-operated shuttles to self-driving vehicle tracks along the Skyway structure within 4-5 years’ time.
Different models of the autonomous bus line will be swapped in and out on a demonstration track located near the Transportation Authority, and residents will have the chance to test them out for themselves.
In addition to travel along the Skyway, the Floridian city is also working to make autonomous travel possible on the city’s streets to neighboring areas like Springfield, LaVilla, and San Marco.
A test track has already been set up for rotation and route configuring purposes, as well as for ensuring that malfunctions with the self-driving shuttles’ technology do not haywire. Reconfiguration of the shuttles’ on-board computer units which guide each vehicle will also be performed.
According to Nat Ford, CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, the transformation is just a footprint in a long-term, overarching plan to completely re-modify the public transportation rail system in the city.
Jacksonville’s self-driving switch puts them on similar ground with other cities making transit system progress, along with other automobile manufacturers who are investing millions of dollars into autonomous vehicle changes.
“There’s a lot happening in this industry,” said Brad Thoburn, Vice Present of Planning and Development for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.
Residents of the Jacksonville area will soon be invited to test out the self-driving shuttles during a trial period. These groups will encompass everyone from disabled people to senior citizens. Demonstrations will also be organized for corporate groups and schools, and will be made available during planned events in February.
The Skyway, according to transportation authorities, will resume regular operation for the next 4-5 years. During this period, the department will work on design specifications for the autonomous shuttle system.
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