Florida's HART and others set to introduce self-driving shuttles to Hillsborough County



The entity responsible for providing public transportation service within Hillsborough County, Florida—the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART)—has selected engineering services company Stantec to provide autonomous mobility services for the Marion Street Transitway, which will result in the “first continuously operated shared autonomous project in the United States that will function in an open environment on public roads with mixed traffic.”

The goal of the project is to document the safety benefits of this kind of service, while seeking to bring Automated Vehicles (AVs) forward within a Connected Vehicle (CV) environment.

“A downtown autonomous vehicle (AV) service will address current mobility needs in downtown, and act as a catalyst project for further autonomy in transportation throughout the Tampa Bay region,” says HART Chief Executive Officer Katharine Eagan.

Several entities are working with HART as a team to bring this project to fruition, including the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which is funding the project, Stantec, and Coast Autonomous, which is a Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) technology company.

“We strongly value our partnerships and look forward to working together for the enhancement of safety and mobility through the utilization of technology,” adds David Gwynn, FDOT District Seven Secretary.

Under the autonomous mobility service project, HART will set out on a one-year pilot program— with an option for four additional years—to demonstrate its leadership in the push to deploy low-speed AVs.

The pilot program will “operate in conjunction with the broader HART public transportation network.”

The entities working together on this project will deliver the self-driving vehicles and conduct pilot testing. They will also study corridor improvement needs and offer recommendations to HART.

The self-driving shuttle being used for this project will operate during daytime hours, as it carries passengers along the corridor.