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Autonomous shuttle now operating

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

An autonomous shuttle between downtown Gainesville and the UF campus began running this morning. The pilot project allows passengers to ride for free during the test phase, which runs through June 30. Because the shuttle is still in its testing phase, an operator will be on board in the event an override of the controls becomes necessary.

The shuttle will operate on a daily fixed route along SW 2nd Ave. between the parking garage on SW 2nd Street and the Innovation Hub from 8 a.m. to noon and again between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

At the ribbon cutting, Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Ward said, “It’s a benefit to the people of Gainesville. It’s a benefit to everybody that works downtown and everybody that works on campus to be able to bridge that gap more easily and more regularly.” 

Charlie Lane, UF Chief Operating Officer, said, “It’s hard for me to think of a better way to demonstrate the power of bringing the university and  community together than through today’s launch of the autonomous vehicle. It took vision, collaboration and fortitude.”

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a testing waiver for phase 1 of the pilot project in December, and the city continues to work to secure waivers for additional phases of the project.
The pilot project is part of the I-STREET real-world test bed, a partnership between the University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI), the Florida Department of Transportation, and the City of Gainesville.

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The shuttle, funded by a $2.5 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, will be operated by Transdev under contract with the City of Gainesville’s Regional Transit System (RTS).

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