AVA: Autonomous Vehicle Advantage
AVA is an autonomous vehicle being tested by PSTA in Pinellas County, with financial support from TBARTA. The acronym stands for Autonomous Vehicle Advantage, and the experimental vehicle is produced by Beep, a developer of innovative autonomous mobility technology. In May 2021, PSTA began testing AVA in Dunedin, after earliest testing concluded in St. Petersburg.
AVA is equipped with multiple onboard LiDAR sensors and GPS tracking to ensure the path is maintained during operation. The vehicle performance is monitored by an onboard shuttle specialist as well as Beep’s Global Command Center located in Orlando. The vehicles are 100-percent electric, cost less than $30 per month to charge, and react 10 times faster than a human can, while never getting distracted from the roadway.
“The AVA project is the latest example of how PSTA is leading the way on innovative, sustainable transportation options. We’re excited to bring this driverless technology to North County and offer more people a chance to experience AVA,” said Gina Driscoll, Vice Chair of PSTA Board of Directors.
"TBARTA strongly supports innovative transit development and recognizes our transportation future needs new technologies that are efficient and sustainable," said David Green, Executive Director of TBARTA. "This project is a great way to further that cause."
The AVA shuttle uses an array of sensors outside of the vehicle providing a full 360-degree view of the environment. An on-board shuttle attendant, or copilot, serves as an ambassador for the riders to learn more about the technology and oversee the high-quality passenger experience.
During the pilot project, AVA operates at a maximum speed of 15 mph. Riders are required to wear a seatbelt and use a face covering while on the shuttle. Passengers can expect processes and procedures onboard that align with best practices for ridesharing and transit according to federal guidelines such as frequent cleaning procedures and a modified seating capacity.