Autonomous shuttle begins pilot phase in Crozet, Virginia

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The pilot phase of Virginia's first public autonomous shuttle service has begun in Crozet, Virginia, according to Perrone Robotics Inc., JAUNT Inc., and Albemarle County, Virginia.

Known as Autonomous Vehicle, Neighborhood Use (AVNU), the shuttle service features a Polaris GEM vehicle equipped with Perrone Robotics' TO Navigate You (TONY) autonomous shuttle technology.

Equipped with perception and guidance capabilities, the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) shuttle will have a safety driver onboard, but it will operate fully autonomously as it drives through county neighborhoods and downtown areas on public roads, navigating vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

“With over 33,000 autonomous miles traveled using our technology, TONY powered vehicles bring the highest level of autonomy available in the world today to NEV shuttles,” says Paul Perrone, founder/CEO of Perrone Robotics.

“We are deploying an AV platform that has been carefully refined since 2003, applied in automotive and industrial autonomy spaces, and now being leveraged to bring last-mile services to communities such as those here in Albemarle County, Virginia. What we deliver is a platform that operates shuttles autonomously in complex environments with roundabouts, merges, and pedestrian-dense areas.”

The AVNU shuttle will offer riders trips within local residential developments. It will also provide trips to connect neighborhoods, and connections from these areas to the downtown business district.

Once the pilot phase is complete, more routes will be established to showcase Albemarle County development initiatives such as connector services for satellite parking, and connections with JAUNT's commuter shuttles, which are also targeted for autonomous operation with TONY technology.

Electrically powered, AVNU is quiet and non-polluting. To extend system range, the shuttle uses solar panels.

The entities note that AVNU has been extensively tested by Perrone Robotics. Before the launch of this pilot phase, Albemarle County and JAUNT evaluated the data collected during testing.